If you have ever wanted to read my novels – there’s a Kindle Countdown deal starting Jan. 12 at 8am (GMT in the UK, and PT in the US) at 0.99, and all the details are at the books’ blog.
There are also instructions for creating a free BookSprout account, downloading the ebooks for free – in exchange for writing a review. I have ZERO control over the review content, as it should be, and love to read what readers think.
I’m the worst marketer ever, in addition to one of the slowest, but I LOVE my blog readers to get a bargain.
A friend said you should consider a blogger’s fiction if you like their posts – makes sense.
IS IT DESIRABLE TO MAKE LITERARY FICTION GO VIRAL IN THE FIRST PLACE?
Big question. Big risk. Big reward?
Before talking about HOW, the question is WHY?
‘Going viral’ is a short way of saying ‘become wildly popular so everyone wants one.’
Also, potentially lethal.
It is one thing to have a product/idea be popular with the masses, but it is another to have the masses laugh at it.
A hula hoop going viral at the right time becomes a toy that almost anyone can buy – AND almost anyone can learn to use – at least sort of. Right before Christmas, at the right price (enough for a hefty markup but not expensive enough to break anyone’s bank), and balanced with the manufacturing ability to produce more in a hurry, hula hoops were very popular and sold millions. (Disclosure: I had one as a kid in Mexico, and was pretty good at it.)
But a book?
It almost seems contradictory to the concept of literary fiction to try to make it go viral.
Except that it has been done.
Something like two MILLION copies of The Goldfinch were printed.
Something like half of those copies were eventually pulped.
Unknown numbers of the ones purchased were READ.
Unknown numbers decorated coffee tables as the ‘book to have.’ Not to have read, necessarily, but to seem to have read. It being literary fiction and wildly popular, if you had a copy you wouldn’t necessarily tell your friends whether you had read the whole thing or not.
Full disclosure: I read the reviews, lots of them, and decided it was probably not my kind of book: too many of the complaints were pet peeves. Some day I will find out for myself, but the day hasn’t come when I can divert MY focus without derailing my own writing. Yet.
How did it go viral?
The most expensive way, the way of the BIG traditional publisher, with a campaign that put the publisher’s entire resources behind a gamble: that they could push a literary novel into being THE literary novel of the season, make it a ‘must have’ and sell enough copies to justify the advance, the push, AND enhance the publisher’s reputation.
Not just reputation, but selling a reasonable number of paper bricks at a hardcover price is lucrative – one well-publicized ‘winner’ can carry the publishing house’s season.
The economics get all fuzzy if the numbers don’t work out, or they would use this system for all their books every season. But the economics MUST work out, or the big publishers wouldn’t keep trying to find (make) the breakout novel of the season.
In sum, it costs a lot of money, but can pay off with a lot MORE money.
How to take advantage of the possibility if you’re an SPA?
Well, if you’re already a popular SPA like Brandon Sanderson, with a loyal fan base, you can kick it to the next level with a huge Kickstarter calculated to both satisfy those fans and create a beautiful buzz for your books. [Hint: He wrote four books in secret – and then releases them to his Kickstarter fans before anyone else is allowed to buy them.]
What if you’re an unknown SPA?
Then you have to hope like crazy that you catch the public imagination – or, possibly better still, the attention of a significant influencer, and get the push from someone else’s fame.
Because the product is not an easy one to sell. For one thing, they consume, each, almost a whole waking day. And there isn’t yet an audiobook so you can do other things while listening – plus it needs closer attention than many, to pick up and follow its varied threads. It’s a pretty intense experience to live a story with three main characters by sitting inside their heads, right behind the eyeballs, thinking their thoughts and registering the external world through their senses.
Not a short commitment from a potential reader, as a popular five-minute song might be.
Add to the mix an author with no energy due to a boring chronic illness – no energy to do the vaunted indie marketing, which requires dedication and verve, spending hours creating material and doing what a whole lot of professionals at a traditional publisher will do for a favored author: designer cover, a book tour, appearances on media from internet to live TV, promotions at Walmart, movie tie-ins for the fortunate… arranging, arranging, arranging – by someone(s).
The right mix of promoting the book and promoting the writer is crucial – time-critical and planned and managed. And still subject to luck. Not just the cost – but the contacts – are crucial to try to control the presentation and roll-out for maximum exposure.
So what do I OFFER such an influencer?
Few things can be left to random kindness any more.
The best value from an influencer is one who discovers your book – and promotes it on their channel of influence (think BookTok) – without any work from the author. Because they like it.
But no one can COUNT on that LUCK. Even when a book such as the lovely The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating, written by a very ill woman who paid attention to the snail in a terrarium, happens, there are friends and pushers, people who did the work of finding a publisher for her, who made it their job to promote her memoir and her writing. Another book which didn’t count on luck, but was awarded the Pulitzer for fiction, A Confederacy of Dunces, was pushed, after he couldn’t get it published and committed suicide, by John Kennedy Toole’s mother, to writer Walker Percy. Again, not something to count on.
What I can offer is the brownie points (does anyone still remember those?) from discovering something unique: a chronically ill and disabled writer who takes forever, but writes mainstream fiction – and writes it well, or the influencer wouldn’t even be considering using up their points for someone else. It could be pushed as ‘discovering the indie/self-published X’, where X is the influencer’s favorite important mainstream writer. I’m far too modest to suggest a comparison author, but my reviewers (at least two) have compared me to Jane Austen. It’s worth a thought.
And if you don’t go viral, how about getting banned?
Another path to notoriety! Otherwise known as ‘publicity.’ Anything to make a good story, right? Not mine – the influencer’s.
It’s a little harder for me – I’ve been looking to the future use of teaching Pride’s Children in schools, and have deliberately kept the actual words and events to the PG-13 level – but someone is quite welcome to take my third main character Bianca Doyle’s unorthodox way of getting a father for her children as scandalous and upsetting drivel to which innocent teenagers (!?!) should not be exposed. Go ahead – it takes little to get the righteous flustered and judgy.
Those are the potential arrows in my literary-publicity quiver
I am quite happy to discover and entertain more, if you have suggestions – I want to be widely read. I would like a few more reviewers, please rhapsodizing about my prose. You needn’t be fulsome – understated works, too.
I would like a huge contingent of breathless fans waiting for me to finally complete work on LIMBO (or LIMBO & PARADISE), to the extent of making preorders possible.
I would love a ready market for any prequel or sequel short stories about our merry band and their quarrelsome ways, and I will continue to work at my deliberate pace (or until cured) to add to the canon.
Wishes make good goals for 2023, if a tad unrealistic. One can dream.
Merry Christmas, Season’s Greetings, and HAPPIER NEW YEAR to all – may the holidays you love and celebrate bring you joy.
Success? I don’t know if others are in the enviable position of not writing for a living, but I am. Which is good, because I’m what we used to call glacially slow, until the glaciers started calving and melting with climate change. A friend called it ‘at the speed of continental drift,’ which still works.
My concern is that after I’ve put twenty-two years so far into the first two books of a mainstream literary trilogy, I want READERS. Legacy would be nice, but that isn’t exactly an aim, and if you’re not known during your lifetime, you will have to be unbelievably lucky in today’s world to be known because someone championed your work after you left us.
Disability – and now – retirement make writing my personal choice. I always meant to do it when I retired from computational plasma physics at Princeton; disability just made that happen at 40 instead of 66.
I spend my energy parsimoniously – there isn’t much of it, and I want it spent on writing when it is discretionary. I’m sure that if I had managed to persuade a traditional publisher to take me on, the marketing would have still been a problem – most traditionally-published works get six weeks on a bookstore shelf before they disappear.
I would like to see all the hoopla be about the quality and especially accessibility of the writing itself: as I have always found books such as Rebecca and Jane Eyre eminently accessible STORY- and CHARACTER-wise, that is what I’ve aimed to write. Maybe my view of ‘literary’ is flawed or limited (personally, I’m not a fan of ambiguity – others love it, or of speculative fiction – ditto, or of creatively formatted fiction): I want better, more intense, more compelling fiction with care for all the factors that make a ‘good book’. Which is why I appreciate the genre fiction with a literary quality – ‘Dune’ isn’t just SF: it is at least literary-quality SF, at best literary storytelling.
The problem is that ‘literary’ now covers anything that doesn’t fit elsewhere, a common contamination.
Instead of being the fiction that subtly raises literacy – and pleasure. As it was for me as an American child growing up in Mexico, with limited access to books in English and no libraries.
I want READERS. Readers who find what I write better than their usual fare. That’s how I define ‘success.’ It requires that I do a much better marketing job somehow.
And the books which become favorites, the ones you remember, are the ones that make you feel good somehow.
Because that’s what you get objectively and subjectively when you read/buy a writer’s book: their particular take on a life, love, and the universal.
It isn’t accidental that some books become classics: they appeal to something in the reader that makes the reader buy the book as an adult, and read it to their children, because it’s an easy way to say that: this is what I want you to grow up loving – and feeling – because it was important to me, and I want you to have it.
As you go through life, and get battered, you choose
But you have to read widely first, so you find out what you need.
Is it The Velveteen Rabbit?
Is is Pooh, original or Disney (or both)?
Is it mysteries or gory serial killer thrillers? Do you like fantasies and are you satisfied when someone else – the protagonist – is The One? Or do you prefer stories in which, due to the writer’s skill, YOU are the center, the quester, the One.
There’s a whole MATRIX of other relevant bits
Location on this planet or an alternate universe
Complexity of ideas
Style and tone and vocabulary
But the most important one is always: how does it make you FEEL?
Because that’s what you’re looking for in the next story, the next favorite, the next book.
And that’s what will determine a basic satisfaction with what you read, and what you look for when you take a chance on something new.
I’m a sucker for well-written books
And I get annoyed when that leads me astray: well-written – but with a basic nastiness to the ending; well-written – but with an underlying misogyny or racism; well-written – but with characters you’d never want to meet in real life.
I still remember one book which was recommended by a literary blog I no longer recall and which the reviewer said it was a shame more people hadn’t read, since it was so well-written. I bought it! I read it! I was indeed very well written. And the recommendation made me miss the early red flags, because the story, about a murdered young girl, and how it affected her family and friends, turned into a story which blamed the victim for her own murder – because of the way she ‘responded’ to the sick adults who perverted her innocence. And the final conclusion to the story was that it wasn’t important to identify and stigmatize the killer!
I deleted the book from my Amazon account, something I rarely do, but haven’t been able to scrub how it made me feel from my mind.
Because first the writer described how wonderful she was and how everyone loved her – and then destroyed her by saying she deserved what happened to her! As if anyone, especially a child, a teen, deserved to be murdered.
It makes me wonder WHY someone would write such a book. And realize there’s a whole subculture of writers who do – and readers who love those books.
When I write I make conscious choices
I leave the characters those turnoffs that the big trucks use on a mountain road when their brakes fail – but I can’t make the characters use them.
I adopt the slow burn: things happen with enough time to think about why, to consider consequences, to justify actions. There are plenty of stories – and real life events – where something pivots on a tiny accidental point. They don’t interest me because there is nothing a character can do to avert the coming disaster – they will cope with the change, and the coping will show who they are, but it’s a cop-out, and, under dire circumstances, even good people make mistakes. And have to live with the consequences of a split second.
Not much in the way of subtlety with the turn-your-life-on-a-twisted-dime stories, especially if the reader can see it coming at the previous mile marker. Plus, those books don’t reward re-reading, and that’s a waste: depending on a trick ending is a fool-me-once.
I WANT to write something re-readable.
I want it to take several readings to see many of the connections.
I want most readers to have to go back and read the previous volume before the new one – or to have internalized what came before so they wouldn’t have to (I’ve had both kinds of readers comment about this).
I offer the usual bargain:
I do the work – you tell me how it made you feel.
Then tell me how it worked for you.
Try it out on the prequel 1500 word short story Too Late.
Then remember there’s plenty more where that came from.
I’m going to be very careful with this post, as getting a bad editorial review is one of the hazards of paying for reviews: your book could be crap, and a proper reviewer is entitled to say exactly what they think of it.
This reviewer sends you the review as a courtesy, so you can tweak any problems before it gets published.
Sometimes you have the recourse of requesting that the review be dumped, and I have exercised that right.
So any quotes I list from the to-not-be-published review are my only product for my money – as only the reviewer and I should have access to the content, and therefore no one should be able to search for the quotes on the internet, and identify the person I’m complaining about here.
I will leave off any identifying information
and write only about the substance of the review, which is the subject of my complaint in a general way (I can already see readers wondering how bad Pride’s Children: NETHERWORLD was, and whether I simply can’t take criticism).
Indies like me need a few impartial honest editorial reviews and we need to pay for them. They – in full, or quotes from them – go in the Editorial Reviews section of the book’s Amazon page.
Having a decent editorial review legitimizes you as an author, gives you some credibility.
We need to choose our source, as it can get into real money (for example, a Kirkus review is almost $500), and it will take a lot of sales to make that review worth the expenditure.
There are many other reputable review services available to self-published authors (SPAs), less expensive ones, but the field is, like literary agentry, completely unregulated, even taking into account that the ultimate result, the review, is published for anyone to see.
One would hope for some self-regulation, but the standard thing for an author to do if you don’t like a review is to let it sink like the millstone it is and hope no one sees it.
FIGHTING a review is not done, and will get you branded a ‘difficult author.’
Again, got it?
So why am I taking the risk?
Because I had expectations (silly woman?) that a professional reviewer would at least read the book.
Or enough of the book to be able to say something real and thoughtful about what I spent 7 years of my small supply of good energy producing.
When I was offered the draft review to tweak
my heart sank.
I wrote back, after a bit of reflection at the complete mismatch between my understanding of my book, and the review:
…I have been looking forward to your review for a long time.
And now I have to ask you to completely cancel publication.
If you have any interest, let me know, and I can provide you with a list of all the points your review did not mention that are critical to the story continued in NETHERWORLD.
I don’t know what to think, but the review below in the email you just sent me is not something I would want published if I have any choice in the matter. It does not represent the continuing story nor the characters.
I did NOT expect a response other than cancellation; what I received was:
Oh my! The review can of course be put on hold.
Please let me know what was wrong or missing. I will go over my notes and re-read, and re-do the review to get it right.
Sometimes I leave out some points in a story in favor of trying to preserve some elements of surprise for the reader; but in this case it sounds like I missed too many and was too general.
Please let me know specifics, and I’ll work at identifying where in my notes I went awry, and will redo the reading and notes as needed.
Lovely offer, so what’s the problem?
I’ll go into specifics of a few things below, but ‘missing a few points’ was not my interpretation.
In fact, when I started to make a mental list of the ‘few points,’ I quickly realized that the entire book had been left out, and a completely generic Romance review was what had been supplied.
If anyone knows Pride’s Children, they know that it is NOT a Romance, was never intended to be one, and misses every trope that a Romance reader expects from a satisfying Romance. Romance is a perfectly viable category with dedicated writers and MANY more readers than literary fiction – and enviably lucrative – but I don’t write Romance.
I’ll let a reviewer for PURGATORY comment:
…And the development of the central attraction isn’t a “romance,” except in the sense that a Jane Austen novel could be called one (and allowing for differences in setting and literary conventions between the early 19th and early 21st centuries, a comparison to Austen isn’t entirely inapt!), nor is it predictable or syrupy…
In fact, as much as I respect Romance writers and readers for knowing and getting what they like to read, I have been fighting Pride’s Children being categorized as a Romance everywhere that crops up, including Goodreads, where the librarians refused to do anything because some READERS had chosen to include PC on a shelf with ‘romance’ somewhere in its title.
Pride’s Children is a LOVE STORY embedded in a mainstream trilogy set in the intersection between Hollywood and writers
From the same reviewer:
…This is solid general fiction of a very high order, in the best Realist tradition, exploring human interactions and relationships between enormously well-drawn characters who come fully alive, as real, intensely human people. These relationships do include romantic attraction and love (and even have it as a central focus), but it’s not the sole focus; family relationships, friendships, working relationships, etc. -some healthy and some not– come under the lens as well…
And now for a few review details, so you can judge for yourself
The whole mention given to Bianca, arguably the most important character in NETHERWORLD, is “And then there’s Andrew’s film co-star Bianca, whose debut film is starting to make its mark on the world,” followed by a single reference to ‘the dance between these three’ and one to ‘a triangle of connections, ambition, and obsessions that embraces scheming, film industry politics, and love and friendship alike.’
The rest of the review tries, generically, to make a two-character Romance out of the friendship between Andrew and Kary: “… recommended pick for prior enthusiasts of the tale, who will find the ongoing growth and connections between Irish megastar Andrew O’Connell [sic] recluse author Dr. Kary Ashe continues to introduce challenge and revised their visions of life…” and “…As each makes their way through dates, other life connections, and events that test their talents and perspectives, readers receive an intriguing contrast in personalities and love that will especially delight prior followers of Andrew and Kary’s worlds.”
The ending tells libraries that NETHERWORLD has “… thought-provoking escapades and interpersonal conundrums where all the characters are both villain and hero will welcome the nicely-developed tension and psychological insights…”
All the characters are both villain and hero?
Excuse me while I gag. The whole point of Pride’s Children is that integrity and morality are NOT relative, not subjective, not ‘opinions,’ but fraught choices with consequences even for those who don’t get to choose.
What do authors do with bad editorial reviews?
Distinguish here first between the REVIEW being bad and the BOOK being so bad the review which says that is good, but this can be irrelevant unless the book is so hyped people go to the original source to see what was actually written, which could lead to a firestorm of sorts until the internet finds the next flaming pile.
The most obvious and most common response is to find some chunk of words in the review that can be used as a pull quote – words to put on the cover or in an ad – that are TECHNICALLY not a lie, because those words, in that order, appear in the review, even if the review context clearly negates the pull quote. Easy? “…one of the best thrillers…” from an original “Nowhere NEAR one of the best thrillers…” Usually a bit more subtle, but you get the idea.
Or if lucky or money is available, a bad review can be buried by several good ones. With the additional fillip of implying the unwanted review is somehow sour grapes.
Dropping the review completely means the loss of whatever was paid for it, which is sometimes the only option.
Arguing about the review in public, WITH names, is best left to well-paid PR pros, because of all the positive and negative ramifications. ‘Going to war’ is expensive, with pitfalls.
Another option, mine, is to use the review carefully as a cautionary example of what can happen, for the newbies to learn from and more experience writers to commiserate about. And then to put it behind you. And, of course, never use that reviewer or editorial review service again.
I briefly considered one OTHER final option
Complaining to the service managers or owners about the review and the reviewer.
Not probably the best option – the reviewer may have been bringing in cash for the service for a while.
Possibly an excuse for the review service to dump the reviewer (usually added to other examples of the reviewer cutting corners or losing their touch).
But extremely dangerous to the individual unarmored AUTHOR, because people won’t necessarily remember that there was some justification for a complaint, only that a certain AUTHOR (those horrible people) had the nerve to complain about a PROFESSIONAL REVIEWER, followed by closing of the ranks of the pros and more complaints about, in this case, entitled indie AUTHORs.
So I’ll stop at ‘cautionary tale,’ hope I get some feedback and not too many people trolling (if you are not a regular, that behavior will get you banned before leading to any posting of your comment; regulars are welcome because I know they will be civil).
I can’t be the only one unhappy with a paid-for review that seems entirely unrelated to the book.
Oh, and don’t forget to BUY the book (or going to Booksprout to request an ARC if you are even considering writing a review), so you can make your own decision if my happiness with NETHERWORLD, and especially its ending, is a crock.
I am just coming out of a period that started, really, far before Sep. 26 when I went to Stanford U. hospitals for a badly needed surgical repair.
It involved taking care of myself in ways I had to learn, going through all kinds of medical tests to make sure that someone with ME/CFS (me) would be a suitable candidate for surgery at all, and then getting there at the right time without the coronavirus putting a stop to the whole parade: I literally had a covid PCR test on Sunday Sep. 25 in a parking lot in Redwood City – all ready for the hospital the next morning – and being fairly sure I was not sick, but knowing that the juggernaut would come to a shuddering halt if I happened to be and be asymptomatic.
And it would take months to get another surgical date, months I did not want to have to face.
Husband and I had isolated in our apartment in the retirement community for over two weeks, going out for doctor’s appointments, and husband going down to dining to retrieve takeout every night for dinner so we wouldn’t be exposed to the cases that seem to randomly infect this place now that people are being so less careful with masks and gatherings.
I had literally been waiting 2.5 years for this surgery date, since I needed it just as the pandemic was getting going in 2020, and anyone who could avoid going to a hospital did so.
Before going to my medical destiny, I published NETHERWORLD:
It was finished in March, but the complications of the health stuff kept me from focusing on cover and formatting, and I finally got help from friends, Bill and Teresa Peschel of Peschel Press in Hershey, PA. Bill kindly and accurately produced the cover from my notes and comments (patient man!), and responded to many rounds of requests for corrections to the interior formatting of the paperback – and I did the final touches to the ebook cover and interior produced by Scrivener on Sep. 18 and 19 and uploaded the files, which Amazon accepted with relative alacrity, making me no longer a one-book author.
And then came the surgery and its aftermath – the HORROR
The operation went fine, and the results have been stellar and relatively painless, and most everything now works properly, and all of it as well as possible.
But pain management went flooey – starting with side effects of medication changes the week before, and then continuing for the most pain I’ve ever had, for weeks, accompanied by side effects from other new medications designed to help, to finally me getting off EVERY NEW MED, and back to my long-time stable pain medications from before – and them slowly being enough.
I tried to tell them I’m a non-standard patient; I thought they had listened.
Don’t know what I’ll do if I ever need to do something like this again, but there will be some very interesting and thorough conversations somewhere along the line: ME/CFS patients are NOT normal patients.
It’s over, I will be released from restrictions in a week
and I will be able to use our warm therapy pool, and then work up to riding my tricycle, and longer trips that the bare minimum rides on Maggie, my Airwheel S8 (a bicycle seat on a hoverboard).
And after getting my brain back these last few days, and catching up enough on sleep to be coherent (pain makes it IMPOSSIBLE to get rest), I have a big paperwork task to finish and send to the accountants.
And I will then be able to start up my new Macbook (I got the midnight blue one), and plug away at organizing the upgraded software I bought it for, and get going to finish the trilogy by writing volume 3, working title LIMBO.
I will be back to whatever passes for normal in this body and this household.
Nothing has yet changed on the research horizons
Rather, it seems that every day some scientist group has a new theory about what may be going wrong in the aftermath of viral infections such as Covid-19 and ME/CFS, and they want research money to find out if they’re right.
One of them will figure it out – the economic impact of millions of people coming down with Long Covid cannot be tolerated.
Except for the diehard holdouts, most doctors are starting to believe that post-viral illnesses are real and not psychological, or hysterical. They have no clue how to help us that gets down to basics and CURES us yet, but they are starting to treat the symptoms and minimize some of the miseries.
There is where HOPE lies: enough scientists committed to figuring it out, supported by research funds. Whether it is too late for people like me who’ve been ill for decades won’t be known for a while, and indeed the research horizon, my husband cautions, is more likely to be five to ten years than anything much faster: the coronavirus does an incredible amount of damage.
Some of it may not be fixable. I may not be fixable. Which would be a bitter conclusion I’m not ready to face yet.
All us post-viral illness folk still have to make it through the days
If you have it, my sympathies. If you have managed to avoid long covid, please be careful – if you get covid, your chances are estimated at 10-30% to not get better.
Have sympathy if you are not ill or have not lost someone dear – the tragedies are endless.
And send good vibes, pray, or cross your fingers – because I can’t wait to get back to spending my daily tiny allotment of energy FINISHING Pride’s Children.
If you read mainstream fiction, or psychological literary fiction, and haven’t read NETHERWORLD, it’s on Amazon in ebook and print. And in KU.
I would love to hear what you think – especially about whether it ends suitably.
And you can sign up to be informed about matters connected with the books at prideschildren.com.
PRIDE’S CHILDREN: NETHERWORLD IS WAITING FOR REVIEWS
If you hurry, you might be the first to post a review – poor NETHERWORLD is sitting on Amazon without a single one as I write this.
I’m slowly getting over the aftereffects of surgery, so I will be more proactive in the coming months.
FIRST SALE FOR NETHERWORLD BEGINS OCTOBER 19
because Amazon needs its price to not have changed for 30 days, and I have set up a Kindle Countdown Deal for my readers who follow this blog: you can even buy it for $2.99 in ebook on Amazon US that day (unfortunately, countdowns are a US thing, too).
OTHER ways to read and review:
IF you want to download an ARC
follow this link to the books’ site, and it will tell you how to join Booksprout and become a reader/reviewer (they even have other books you might like to download and read). While you’re there, if you haven’t clicked ‘Follow’ before, feel free to do so now – it is the best way to get details about the book delivered to your inbox, and to hear about sales in a timely manner.
I’m using this method because I am still not well enough to handle the back and forth of individual communication about ARCs; if you want that, it’s going to be about a month before I can commit to doing it (it takes a lot of work on my part).
I would appreciate it very much if you join, download and read, and review – and it will be much faster for you.
IF you would rather buy
simply mosey over to Amazon’s page for Pride’s Children: NETHERWORLD, and choose ebook or print. It is a bit longer than PURGATORY, but the ebook is the same price.
And, of course, I would still love a review!
It’s that easy.
But be warned: I write long books.
But then: that may be partly why my readers love them.
I’m slowly getting back to functional, but surgery isn’t easy for someone like me. All anyone really needs to know is that it seems to have been successful, and I’m working on the pain part, and can’t wait until I’m back to what passes for normal for me.
Seems such an obvious statement, but being invisible is a big problem for authors – getting the title of your book out there is a constant pressure, and you become very fond of those who make the effort on your blog, their blog, a writing site, a reading site, or any place where readers who would like YOUR books congregate.
And then something has to persuade them to read enough words to get to a ‘Call to Action,’ which can be as simple as a recommendation followed by a link.
The problem of recommendations
If the subject of what you’re reading comes up naturally, I don’t find it too difficult to ask a few questions about what someone new to me likes to read.
I rattle off a couple of favorites of mine – say Jane Eyre and the Dorothy L. Sayers mysteries and maybe Dune – and watch to see if the listener’s reaction is fight or flight.
No one likes pushy authors, those who insist their books are ‘for everyone.’ Because it’s not a very believable statement in general, though people who are glad they read Jane Eyre have the most flexible mindset (which is why it gets so much attention). The enjoyment, or even that the story was self-chosen, are the keys – such a reader probably plowed (or ploughed) through similar long-lasting books.
I tried reading A Confederacy of Dunces – an award winner with a good author story (John Kennedy Toole committed suicide when he couldn’t find a publisher, his mother persuaded a legendary literary agent to champion the book, and it won the Pulitzer Prize), but had to force myself to finish Chapter 1. Because it may be brilliant, but it made my gorge rise and choke me. ‘Icky’ is the best I can remember about that long-ago attempt I have no desire to repeat. I don’t get very far into Lolita, either, for similar reasons. Or The Catcher in the Rye.
I can’t imagine their authors spending time with those characters, however good the writing may be.
So I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone, and am glad I don’t have to assign either book to, say, a class of high school juniors (assuming teachers still get to make those choices), and then have to talk about it in class.
It’s personal for the author
And books can become a personal crusade favorite for readers who then recommend, gift, or lend something they loved.
So, if you LIKED a book, take a moment and do SOMETHING to encourage the author to keep it up:
Rate the book
Review and rate it
Blog about it
Recommend it to a friend
Leave nice words on the author’s websites
Buy an extra copy to lend
Send a copy to a friend or family member
Use as gifts
Ask your library to order the book(s)
Write a guide
Mention your favorite parts
Tell people you can’t wait for the next book in the trilogy
Hire a band to parade in DC in costume
Anything you would like if YOU had written the book.
Be your most creative.
Give a copy to any medical personnel who have no empathy for diseases like ME/CFS – this will allow them to live the life of one – without actually having to get it, or Long Covid, or Post-polio Syndrome, or Lyme disease – or any one of a bunch of post-viral syndromes and similar misunderstood ‘invisible’ diseases.
Crusade for indie books in principle by doing something a little beyond your normal response – the author will be delighted.
It’s not the money (though adequate royalties of around $6 per any version I have are about three times larger than many traditional authors make per book) – I crave the readers. Thanks!
If you are interested in my fiction, and haven’t signed up at its site, click on Pride’s Children: NETHERWORLD‘s announcement post for the ebook – but the print version is already up, cover and all, and Amazon has notified me it may take 3 days.
The ebook took ONE HOUR to be approved, late last night – I guess no one else was up!
Details at the link – not everyone who comes here is interested in fiction.
Check there, too, for the details of the two Kindle Countdown Deals that are set up – one for PURGATORY, Sep. 21, and one for NETHERWORLD, Oct. 19. Best way to pick up a copy of either.
This blog has 967 followers as of today – and I’ve been at it since 2012.
I’m two posts away from 700 – and no, that’s not why I’m blogging today.
Many blogs I follow have posts every day. I don’t necessarily want to do that, even if I could.
The blog I really care about is the one for the Pride’s Children books, prideschildren.com (I did have the sense to buy the domain way back in the early years, along with this one and a couple of others I keep just in case, such as the one with my full name).
But PridesChildren.com has 40 followers, and this blog has 732, and I’m wondering if I’m somehow neglecting to get readers who come HERE to continue on to the PC blog – assuming some of them read mainstream fiction, or, Oh, Joy!, have read some of my short fiction and want something more.
With limited energy, a staple of my life, I have to choose every day that isn’t too severely brainfogged, where to do some writing:
Where does the (writing) time go?
When one of the volumes of Pride’s Children is being written, that’s where the efforts mostly go, unless I physically can’t accomplish much because the time is short.
When I have something specific to say or to record for posterity (which often includes my own odd brand of writing advice), I blog at Liebjabberings (here). I’m actually considering writing a book of advice for writers – if there is any interest in my coping mechanisms.
And when I want to look polished and professional (even though I usually write in PJs) and am reminding myself that I have one chance to make a good impression with the fiction I care the most about, I blog at Pride’s Children. Or when I have something to say about a launch, or a sale, or an award.
And there’s always something on both sites that needs updating or polishing – feel free to weigh in.
Do I already have some crossovers?
Yes, but not as many as I expected.
So I’m making an open invitation: try out my short fiction here, go follow me there (or on Amazon at my author page), and you’ll know when I have a publishing event you might be interested in.
Other things to do
Contact me (See the About page) – ask me anything, or suggest a topic for a post. I love questions, and would be happy to write about something (assuming I have anything to contribute).
Comment on a post – I look at them as conversation starters, not articles of truth. Love chatting.
Recommend me to a friend, as a blogger or fictioneer.
Read something – try out the short fiction. Or a favorite post of mine. Or dig into the old ones with the strange titles.
Why now? Because NETHERWORLD is so close, and I’d love to give it a good party sendoff. And because sales are short-term events, and I’m figuring out timing that would be most beneficial – for more people to acquire ‘the taste.’
In 2015, I was publishing a book for the first time, after spending a gazillion years writing the first book in my Pride’s Children mainstream trilogy, PURGATORY.
Newbies have a lot to learn, and it is an intense experience if you do it yourself, and you’re pretty sure there’s no way you will forget the steps.
But you have to allow for change – from the outside world – and it won’t take you or your needs into account.
I forgot two major things: software changes and computer crashes.
Software changes negate some changes you make to your copy
I was barely surviving, even back in 2015 when I spent a summer learning graphics and covers and formatting, and I thought that, between my notes and my blog posts, I was saving enough information to do it again with the second book in the trilogy (eventually named NETHERWORLD).
I didn’t even think – no spare brain cells – that the process would be different in a few years, and that it would take me seven to write the next book. Seven is a big number of years in computers.
Because of several computer crashes during those years, and a coast-to-coast move from New Jersey to California, I had to rely on backups for some of my major applications, and sometimes those backups came from outside my own storage systems.
When you download such a backup, you get a pristine copy, ONE THAT DOESN’T HAVE YOUR MODIFICATIONS.
And the major mod that bit me was that on several of my indispensable applications, including Word, Scrivener, and Pixelmator, I had installed fonts I used for the interior and the exterior of the book – duly licensed and paid for – because I liked them.
Find your fonts: on your computer – or download them again
Because I included a Design Notes page at the end of the printed copies of PURGATORY, I had a list of all the fonts I used, their licensing information, and where I’d downloaded them from; plus where I’d licensed them from, with a copy of the invoice and registration information.
Not easily accessible – I didn’t think they would disappear, so I was cavalier about storing them properly – but (and here I credit Apple for saving my bacon several times by making a back of my data at the time of the crashes) they were there on my computer backups, and I eventually located all my information.
Font information is now stored in a MUCH clearer fashion, in a folder on my Desktop labeled 2022 PC Storage/2022 PC FONTS (incl PC1 fonts), and backed up on my computer and in the iCloud, so I won’t have to do this again.
[NOTE: this is where I’m trying to save other users, especially self-published authors (SPAs), time and effort – do this from the beginning, and add all new fonts to this storage system, and don’t be like Alicia.]
Fonts I use for covers or exteriors for Pride’s Children:
Alido (monospaced, from SummitSoft, licensed in the Big Graphics Bundle)
New Yorker (a very good imitation of the expensive official one, free from Allen R. Walden, to be credited)
Goudy Serial (from SoftMakerSoftwareGmbH, licensed) in 6 weights
Sorts Mill Goudy (free from Barry Schwarz, credit)
Cambria (pre-installed, licensed for all uses with MS Office)
Book Antiqua (monospaced, pre-installed, licensed for all uses with MS Office)
Saving – and printing out and saving in physical form – the licensing information is a good idea; fonts are someone’s Intellectual Property, and you don’t want problems with a published book because you don’t have the required information handy to prove you licensed what you use – SPAs are a small business, and it helps to behave like one.
Install the fonts on your system
Before you do anything with additional fonts, they have to be installed on your computer in a form you can then add to your software.
For the Macs, this means installing them into the app Font Book, which couldn’t be simpler (assuming the font is one of the approved font types – which I found listed at Apple Support).
The extra fonts I chose for PURGATORY were all .otf or .ttf, which made it vastly simpler for me: double click on the font, Font Book opens automatically, click Install.
Book Antiqua and Cambria were IN the Font Book already, which makes me think that installing Microsoft Office 2011 for Mac also installed the Office fonts properly. Thanks, Microsoft!
Transfer the fonts to your software – if necessary
On the Mac I don’t have to do this! All the fonts in the Font Book that are not grayed out were now available when I opened Pixelmator!
And now I’m back where I was, font-wise, before the computer crashes and the move, and know a lot more than I did then.
Not intending to be dire or apocalyptic – but often being able to write a blog post, almost any kind of a post, signals, for me, the end of a difficult period where the brain power needed to do almost anything is just not there, and I’m not sure if it’s the waxing and waning of ME/CFS – or the beginning of the end of being able to write.
Those who know me, or have been following for a while, know how close to the edge of completely non-functional I live. A little bit worse, and no creative juices flow at all.
I wait it out, deal with whatever is causing additional problems beyond chronic illness and disability, pick up where I left off when I can function a bit again.
THERE IS NO POINT
in wasting any of my energy in railing against my fate – it doesn’t help, and doesn’t make me feel better. [Note: my brain supplied ‘railing’ as the appropriate form of protest against things bigger than I can manage. I was terrified for a few seconds when Google only supplied ‘fencing’ as a definition, until I insisted further and ‘rail’ as a verb came up. Phew!]
It is what it is until they figure it out, this ME/CFS, come up with a definitive diagnostic, find the mechanism(s) that cause it, find a treatment, find a CURE!
Today I had an interesting interaction with someone online who claims 1) to have had it, and 2) to have a treatment protocol that cured him. I had the strength of character to tell him I was glad for him, and not interested in arguing with someone online who has the ‘solution of the week.’ And to please stop writing to me.
As we tell new people, “Hope it’s something else – something that DOES have a diagnostic and a treatment.” If something actually cured someone, it is awfully likely they didn’t have what I have in the first place, but something with similar symptoms – and a CURE!/treatment/prognosis.
It’s vanishingly likely that he has something that can help, and I don’t have the bandwidth for another savior with a solution. I’ve been at this nonsense for 32 years.
There is a finite (ie, non-zero) possibility that now that they’re pouring money into long covid research that they will actually look enough to find a real solution. That’s where my hopes are being pinned; ask me in a couple of years if anything panned out – because governments finally realized that 10-30% of the long covid survivors were, essentially, getting ME/CFS and, more importantly to governments, turning from productive working tax-paying citizens into sick citizens needing the disability benefits they have been promised since they started working. Ie, it will COST the governments, and they may figure out a cure is finally worth putting some money into research, instead of telling people it’s all in their heads.
Hope I’m still around.
More than that, hope it works for people who are not recently ill – not that I begrudge the newbies, but I want to be at the head of the line.
Hey! Look! I’m producing coherent (okay, you may argue about that) sentences!
It’s been a rough time since I announced I had finished writing Netherworld, and now that I have finished proofing the text.
The plan was to format and then to get the cover out of my head and onto a page. It’s been weeks. Sometimes I just go read the end, fall in love with it all over again, and go back to sitting staring at the screen.
Because love hasn’t been translating into action.
So far it’s just par for the course, and I expect it will resolve itself, and it won’t hurt to get the new Airbook(name?) from Apple with the M2 thingamabob my eldest daughter says is good – not having the computer question resolved – should I format and cover on the old machine, or wait for the new one and bite the bullet and update my Scrivener which may have some of the things I needed that the previous version didn’t have?
But I can’t believe how much that tiny obstacle in my path stopped me from making ANY progress.
Physical problems have been the stumbling block
I don’t want to go into details, yet, on a public blog, but my already-strained-to-the-limit body and mind have had a huge task added to keeping us all going, it has affected sleep, pain, and comfort to an incredible degree, and taken every speck of energy I had.
Finding a solution took energy I didn’t have, and going outside my medical system, and I’m glad I did – but it won’t be over for a while, and it isn’t going to be any fun. Until AFTER September, and then there will be recovery.
And I won’t have any relief from taking care of the problem constantly unless I am very, very, VERY lucky next week.
I’m sleeping in 1-2 hour chunks. That should account for the feeling of doom – sleep deprivation is classified as torture.
So I shouldn’t worry, right?
Except that there’s always that one last straw, the one that breaks the badger’s back, and I wonder, when I have the brain to wonder, whether this is it, and hope it isn’t, because I’m not finished writing quite yet.
If I am, it isn’t because I quit. I was because I was wrestled to a standstill by Reality, which always wins.
Meanwhile, putting words on page has given me a little much-needed hope again, and getting the news my computer situation might be resolving has given me a goal in a decision I kept going back and forth on (wait – or go ahead on familiar if not completely adequate technology – wait -…).
Thinking outside the box hasn’t worked yet
but I am vastly encouraged by the fact that I figured out how to, initiated it, was fortunate enough to find a listening ear (after several tries), and it may work much better than what I have had (nothing). And in my weakened state, no less!
I’m very proud of myself for trying – hope it works out.
So there – and mysterious. The women who read this blog and are older than 50 and/or have had children may have a clue; the rest of you really shouldn’t want to know. It’s grotty and embarrassing and against all the modesty my middle-class Mexican upbringing instilled deep, courtesy of my beloved Mother.
If I navigate it successfully, you may ask privately, and I’ll name the Beast.
As soon as the fog clears a bit more, and/or the new laptop is here and mastered, I will go doggedly right back to working on the publishing of NETHERWORLD, instead of just going to the file, re-reading the end, and crying into my beer because I love it so much.
I’m just waiting for two good friends to let me know if they liked it, too, to feel a whole lot better.
And if you like to be in at that stage, my contact information is in the About. I could use a few more readers/reviewers who are familiar with PURGATORY, and need to keep going.
Gak! It’s been almost a month since I posted anything!
There was a lot of quarantining in that time. NOT because we were exposed to Covid, though some independent living residents in this facility were (we found out because they had dinner with friends in Assisted Living at the Friendship Table, and the AL people ARE tested regularly because they’re in the health-care portion of our facility).
And because those people in IL who WERE exposed to the people in AL who tested positive, the State of California required them to quarantine for FOURTEEN DAYS in their apartments. None of the IL residents got Covid, thank goodness, but WE had a vacation in Lake Tahoe with our kids a few weeks later, and realized that WE wouldn’t be able to go IF we got exposed ourselves, here, and then had to do the same quarantine for 14 days.
That is, we quarantined for 14 days so we wouldn’t have to quarantine for 14 days – at an inconvenient time which would put the kibosh on OUR vacation. Mixed up world, eh?
So – any progress on publishing NETHERWORLD?
Well, yes and no.
For the ms., I created an easy ARC from Scrivener – the complete, very long pdf of the whole thing (~500 pages), and sent it to the first person who’s offered to review AND buy it on launch day (thank you, David!), and as a backup complete proofed file to several places, including my amazing beta reader (thank you, Rachel!), and gave my husband and children the necessary information to manage my literary estate (and publish Netherworld) if something happened on the trip/vacation/return. You never know.
The formatting is no further than that.
For the cover: I have all the pieces, an updated Pixelmator 3, and an updated Learn Pixelmator 3.5 video course (free update – thanks folks!).
I’ve bought licenses for the two cover images from Dreamstime, acquired another photo from the same friend who supplied the sky for Purgatory’s cover, found a couple of low-res images to guide me in the changes I’ll need to create the cover in my head, and put the whole thing into a folder and a backup on the iCloud. Phew.
Now I just have to do the work, get it past my cover mentor (thank you, Jessica!), and create ebook, paper and hardback covers to spec, and then, because I want to make one change to them, redo a bit of the Purgatory covers (bigger name so it shows on the thumbnail, add the award, etc.) which really amounts to redoing a fair amount of the Purgatory covers AND creating the hardcover one.
I have my permissions from Cambridge U. for my KJV quotations – feels nice and official.
I got my copyright certificate from the Library of Congress! I always feel better after I do that, for whatever it might be worth.
Launching is, of course, dependent on having something to launch. I had approached a PR firm, put up with a long delay to talk to them, checked in with them and received a promise of an answer of some kind before the end of May, and than have been ghosted. It does remind me that if people are not reliable in the small things, it’s probably better not to rely on them for the big ones, so that firm is permanently off the table. Too bad, because I liked them, and had already invested some effort into them.
I’m still obsessively re-reading the end of Netherworld – and not changing a word. I promise explosions, and I hope they are well received.
I want to continue getting into writing LIMBO
I literally can’t wait – because there are only a few hours between the end of 2 and the beginning of 3, and I’m very happy how that turned out.
And I’ve already started writing Chapter 41(LIMBO goes to 60).
BUT I’ve been dealing with some medical problems for 2.5 years to no solution, and I’m in the middle of trying to fix some things that really need fixing, and it’s a slow process because disability means EVERYTHING is so much harder – from making phone calls through phone systems that won’t just let you call someone to make an appointment, to doctor visits which consume an incredible amount of prep time, energy, and recovery time, to a whole slew of medical tests with the same problems – which the new doctor insists on before she will even consider DOING something.
Plus a big paperwork problem I’ve finally admitted I had to step in and manage, do some of, get help, hand over to the pros…
And my limited number of daily spoons is gone every day before I manage to write. Because it’s not just ‘write a few words’ now – it’s the whole huge Book 3 planning review, restart, clean up, carry stuff from 1 and 2 typical glorious mess of starting the final volume in a trilogy. Drives me up a tree that I can’t just do it.
But I’m literally doing the best I can
And not managing to sleep very well with all the above, to boot.
I can tell stress that I’m fine until I’m full-body blue, but that does NOT take away the stress. It just doesn’t add worry, but the things I’m having to do are stressful in and of themselves, and that is such a deep autonomic process that you can’t affect it much.
Plus the physical problems have extra pain and much discomfort associated, which has to be micromanaged – and I was already exhausted before that.
There are signs, portents, and possibilities
of improvements, but not fast.
This is literally the first time I’ve even been able to think of writing a simple blog post, in the whole past month.
Life happens – you deal.
I know what my primary aim is (if family is okay), but I’m not able to DO it right now.
Don’t worry. Nothing TOO horribly grim. But I’m all tapped out of spoons every day, almost the end of the morning, when I’ve done nothing yet.
But stuff slowly gets done, and goes into the rearview mirror queue from the To Do list, and I’ll get there.
On the bright side
my oldest daughter is helping me select my new computer for the foreseeable future – my current lovey is from 2015, and can’t be upgraded far enough because then my necessary old software – Office 2011 for Mac and Dramatica Story Expert – won’t work, and I don’t have the mental bandwidth right now to deal with another potential crash.
Everything is properly backed up (Time Machine and iCloud), but bobbles with computers cost me days or weeks when they happen, so for the first time in a long time, I’m being proactive: a new Macbook Air with the M2 processor and good camera should take me far into the future and definitely through LIMBO.
It will, however, require some learning – not my strong point.
So that’s the update:
I’m working as hard as I can on the critical list items
I’m as far along with Netherworld as I can be, including covers
Ditto redoing the Purgatory covers
Ditto writing into the future with Limbo
and dealing with the sorry carcass which makes all of this possible at all in as graceful a manner as I can against the extra stress of having to do it at all, and the unbelievable amount of extra energy it takes
AND, courtesy of my lovely assistant Sammy, whose last day is today (she’s graduating! going on to grad school! going home for the summer!), I have already acquired an assistant for the fall (another senior – so I’ll get 8-9 months of her life, and leave her a changed young woman – but seniors are really handy), and she’s interested in learning the self-pub aspects of the job I haven’t had time to do with Sammy because other things were more, uh, important.
And the ability to write this post reassures me that there’s still a ‘me’ here.
More when there’s actually progress on this laundry list.
Be well. Have a great summer. Don’t work TOO hard.
PS: If you are desperate to read NETHERWORLD, and wouldn’t mind writing a review to be posted when it’s published, email me (abehrhardt at gmail), make your case, and I’ll send you what I have at the time.
Every year this date reminds me that we STILL have no diagnostic marker, treatment, or cure for the devastating disease that stole my life as a physicist in 1989, the week of Nov. 5th.
Another year with nothing really new that can turn me back into a functioning person.
Or even help new victims.
Except that this year there is an understanding that, if we didn’t know what virus had done the damage, ALMOST ALL of the long-covid victims would be diagnosed, based on symptoms, with ME.
But we know that virus, and possibly that will help some of the targeted research that now has been funded to figure out the mechanism of the damage and find a way to reverse some of it.
And maybe, MAYBE, some of that research will benefit newer victims of ME/CFS, and possibly – though the damage is so long-standing it’s hard to think how – those of us who have been waiting for decades.
If you pray, pray for us.
If you’re not the praying kind, think of us kindly.
We’re still sick – and I wouldn’t wish this illness on Putin.
Meanwhile, Pride’s Children: PURGATORY is still in existence because of ME/CFS, and NETHERWORLD will be out very soon (the disease makes me very slow).