On Author Photos

You know the ones. They’re usually on the very last page of the book or on the back cover. They’re always professional shots and usually pretty nice. Usually.

During the course of my three months at Half Price Books I’ve seen a few older books come through the doors. I’m not talking a century old, I’m talking about 20-30 years old. And some of the pictures taken back in the day were not very good. They had dogs looking like they were trying to climb off the chair. They had authors wearing rather interesting attire. I think I’ve even seen t shirts. Any author can obviously wear whatever they like in their author photo, but I think it should still be considered a professional photo. And today it is, but I’m not so sure it was viewed as such just a few decades ago.

Have you ever seen an author photo that you thought was a bit questionable? I know I have.

A NaNo Alternative

During November there is a lot of writing going on. Some good, some bad, and some writing is so terrible that the author’s mom wouldn’t even like it. But still people rush to participate in NaNo every year.

The only alternative that I’ve seen gain any traction online is people blogging each day of the month. Even though the two really have nothing to do with each other. I have a better idea. Why not study the craft and see how much you can learn about writing? Instead of spending the month working on something that is most likely years away from being ready for the eyes of an agent or self publishing, why not just try to become a little tiny bit better?

Read some writing books. See if you can learn about the writing process of some of your favorite authors. Heck, even taking James Patterson’s class on becoming a bestseller would probably give you a good amount of information. NaNo doesn’t.

People talk about it like it’s some great community. Or like it’s something to get better. But no. No one actually gives a damn about your writing. Why would they? They have no stake in it. And NaNo surely isn’t a means to improve your writing. Still just a gimmick.

What do you think about using the month to study the craft a bit and perhaps just gain a little knowledge rather than trying to get as many words written as possible?

Authors Owning Bookstores

Did you know that mega bestselling author Jeff Kinney owns a bookstore? I didn’t. Until recently. And no, he’s not the only one.

I obviously don’t have a definitive list of authors who also own bookstores, but there’s several who do. But I think the idea is pretty great. Obviously this isn’t something that just any author can do. He’s said that his building cost millions to build. It’s state-of-the-art and rather large. So I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I could afford (or get) that kind of loan with my current finances. He also hosts author events for authors he knows personally. Again, this is probably not something you or I could do.

But I think it’s a cool idea. Obviously authors who do this want to make money from their investment, but bringing people together who love books and making some money from it (after taking all the risk) isn’t the worst thing in the world.

I think authors owning bookstores could become something of a trend. We know there aren’t as many bookstores as there used to be, so this could be a way to attract people into indie stores. They could potentially meet one of their favorite authors just by going in. What do you think of authors owning their own bookstores?

Underappreciated Authors

I don’t like it when this term is tossed around. I don’t like it one bit.

Whenever someone says one particular author is underappreciated, that tells me that they’re saying some other author is undeserving of whatever they’ve earned as an author. We could be talking money, fame, awards, anything.

We all understand that there are plenty of great authors out there who haven’t been discovered or don’t sell many books despite critical acclaim. We get it. But it’s not like some of the most popular authors are sabotaging everyone else. Sure they get more attention and resources from their publishers, but it’s because they sell. No one ever said only the best authors can be bestsellers. It’s a little ridiculous and disrespectful to start saying one person deserves something over someone else who has already put in the work and hours to achieve their success. It isn’t easy for anyone in publishing. No one knows which authors are going to become bestsellers and which aren’t. (strictly referring to unknown writers and not celebrities.)

There’s an author who’s written a few books (three, maybe?) and they’re just as good as any I’ve read. But I’d be willing to bet that not a single one of you would even know who he is. Heck, I don’t even know what he looks like. But I’d never go so far as to say that he should be more widely read than he is and someone else shouldn’t be. Come on.

What do you think about this?

Working Outside of Writing, Does it Help?

Kind of a weird title. I’ll explain.

Most writers start off doing something else. Maybe they work for a major tech company. Maybe they work as an accountant. Or they’re in marketing. They can be just about anyone, right? My question today asks if that work experience that usually happens before the beginning of a writing career helps.

Some would say of course it does. Others would say it just takes away from time that could have been spent writing, or at least working on perfecting the craft. I obviously don’t have any real insight here, because I’ve never gone from a non-writing career to a writing one. But I do know about a few of my favorite authors. Marcus Sakey worked in marketing. Robert B. Parker worked as an English professor. I think. Michael Connelly worked as a journalist. Lee Child worked in TV. The list goes on and on. And the professions would vary widely from one author to the next.

But knowing this still doesn’t answer the question if prior work helps with one’s writing career. I think there’s no doubt that it helped Michael Connelly. He wrote for the Los Angeles Times. But Sakey was in an office for six years. I’m sure he had a lot of time to think, but I don’t know if he actually learned anything he didn’t already know.

Just about any writer on here is more polished and accomplished than I am. Maybe you have an actual response to a question I can only think about. Does the work you currently do or did in the past help with your writing?


On this day in 2014 I published If you Could Jump Into any Story.

 

On Amazon Reviews

Do you live under a rock? No? Well then you probably know that Amazon recently started cracking down on its review system. And suddenly the world is going to end once again. I’m not entirely sure how they do it, but they’ve managed to link Amazon accounts to Facebook accounts. They use this link to see if all your Facebook friends are the ones leaving those five star reviews on your book.

Everyone and their mom seems to think this is the worst thing that’s ever happened on the internet. And once again I’m not with any of them. I’m going to ask you to be completely honest with yourself. Just be honest. Is it possible for your friends or family members to be objective in their Amazon review? Serious question. You’re probably thinking, “Well MY family members won’t say my book is good if they don’t really think it is.”

YEAH. RIGHT.

What they’ll likely do if you force them to write a review and they didn’t actually like it is they’ll give you all their feedback personally and then ease way off of the criticism in their review. And likely add a star or two. And if you say that your friends and family are different from this, then you might want to compare the reviews from people you don’t know to those written by people you do. Just do it. (like Nike.)

I mean, have you seen the reviews written by book bloggers? They review every book they read and somehow all the books are four or five star reads. Really? They can’t even be honest when reviewing books by others they’ll never meet, but people actually expect their friends and family to be honest when reviewing their book? Funny.

The even funnier part of this whole thing is that people think reviews sell books. Nah. They don’t. Which is why you can find books with a handful of nice reviews that don’t sell just like the book with no reviews.

What do you think of Amazon disallowing friends and family members of an author from reviewing their book? I think it’s a better way to have more accurate ratings. And I see nothing wrong with that.


On this day in 2014 I published Like a Reality Show, but for Authors.

 

Authors can Rally Around Great Books and Make Things Happen

About a month ago I read about something strange. A number of prominent authors were bringing attention to a single book. And it wasn’t written by any of them. Obviously I’m not under the impression that all authors are against one another, but this just seemed different. They were promoting a book entirely because they believed it to be one of those rare, great books that doesn’t come along too often. And things are happening because of it.

First, the book they were talking about was The Cartel by Don Winslow. The authors talking about it were Michael Connelly, Harlan Coben, Lee Child, and James Ellroy. I haven’t read all four, but I know them. Because I read crime fiction and those are names you have to know. But I’d never heard of Don Winslow before this book. The book became a New York Times bestseller and now has a movie deal in place.

I’m not going to say that it’s all because of what those four authors said about it, but when you’ve got a group that’s sold upwards of 100 million books talking about your book, there’s no greater promotion to be done.

The point is to say that everyone talks about how cutthroat the industry is and how impossible it is to break into publishing, but this group of crime writers has shown that it doesn’t have to be like that. That rallying around a book and its author is not such a bad thing after all.

What do you think of these bestselling authors bringing attention to Don Winslow and his book? I love it.

New Beginnings Start in May

I’m obviously great at coming up with titles for my posts, huh? Anyway, this title is actually relevant to the month of May and there were some nice surprises that occurred along the way. I’m just going to jump right in with some numbers. As always, previous record will be in parenthesis.

Posts: 31 (31)

Likes: 829 (837)

Comments: 1366 (2121)

Followers: 2876

Books Read: 0 (4) *record for month in 2015

Poems: 0 (2) *record for month in 2015

An overall solid month, but it didn’t always look that way. The first half of May was dreadful. I’m pretty sure I actually scratched my head a time or ten because I had no idea what was going on. There are things that I fully expect to happen every month, no matter what I’m talking about on this blog. I expect to get new followers everyday. I expect to have between 800-1500 comments a month. I expect certain bloggers to return over and over again. These are all pretty constant, and I expect all of these things to combine to generate a specific number of views at the minimum. In the first half of May everything I just pointed out was happening just like any other month, but the views weren’t there. It would have been my worst month since December, which isn’t the worst thing in the world. You see I kept posting everyday and I kept interacting with y’all, but it was just a head scratcher.

The second half of the month was great. My best day of views in 2015 happened on Saturday, and last week was my best week of the year. I know y’all don’t care about this stuff, but it’s just a little weird sometimes. May was the fourth consecutive month that I posted everyday. And it was at least my seventh consecutive month of increasing comments. Now for some posts.

Top Post

What’s a Book Hangover?

Favorite Post

Stick With it

Post you may Have Missed

Not all Writers are the Same

My top post came at the end of the month! It will soon become the top post of 2015. I knew when I decided to write it that almost no one would agree with me, but I didn’t realize there would be such a reaction from several bloggers. But eh, I’m not apologizing for being honest.

Lastly, I announced that I’m starting a YouTube channel! I’m actually pretty excited about this. My intention is to record my first video tomorrow and hopefully have it released by Wednesday. Then I’ll just record them when I have something new to talk about.

I think that’s all for me. May could very well be the start of something fun.

How was your month?

PS: I’ve now sent out all of the guest post invites. It’s more than just five, which means two things…first, just because you write a post doesn’t mean I’ll post it. Second, the sooner you get your post to me the faster I can make a decision as to whether or not to post it.

It’s That Time Again

A few months ago I had a week of guest posts on here. And I’m ready to do it all again.

I have regular readers who I know are pretty interested in what I have to say, but I’ve posted almost every day of 2015! Which means a little change in perspective is probably in order. And I’m looking right at you.

It’s easy. I post about ANYTHING pertaining to books, writing, or publishing on here. Which leaves countless topics for you to discuss in a guest post. And don’t worry about trying to think of a topic I haven’t discussed before because my thoughts were most likely different from what you have to say.

Here are the only rules:

  • No book reviews.
  • No creative writing (poetry, short story, flash fiction, etc.)
  • No lists.

And that’s it! All you have to do is comment that you’d be interested in writing a guest post and I’ll send you an invite before the end of the day. You don’t even have to tell me a topic. I’m aiming for the first or second week of June to have the week of guest posts, which means I’m looking for five posts for each weekday. And of course, I reserve the right not to publish your post for any reason at all.

If you’re curious about what to write about, take a look at the guest posts from my first time doing this.

How to Feel Like Writing Again.

Are Writers Stalkers?.

I’m Going to Slit my Wrists if you Don’t Publish me….

The Wonderful World of YA.

The Buddy System.

Interested? Then leave a comment!

Are Epilogues Necessary?

There once was a time in which I wouldn’t even read epilogues. I think it was probably high school. And then one day I decided to continue reading after the last chapter. I have no idea why I never read them in the first place or why I suddenly started reading them later on.

But when I really think about them, are they really necessary? I would guess that more than 90 percent of the books I read have no epilogue at all. Because generally speaking, in crime fiction the case has been solved. And if it’s a case that’ll span multiple books, then there’s still no reason to have an epilogue. I’ve seen authors include the opening chapters of their next books more often than I’ve seen epilogues.

I mean, tell me what an epilogue accomplishes that can’t be accomplished with the final chapter. I guess if it’s something like J.K. Rowling did, then it’s not so bad. But most books or series don’t need that additional information. Or do they?

Do you think epilogues are necessary?


On this day in 2014 I published Ten Most Haunting Male Literary Characters.