Surviving Your Book Promotion

Fame and Fortune Weekly Dime Novel Story PaperVery few authors believe they have sold enough books. Don’t seek personal validation for your career through book sales.”

Ed Cyzewski has a new book out today about the calling and career of writing, Write without Crushing Your Soul.  He observes how experts have differing ideas of what works and you can’t copy one writer’s successful habits to gain your own success (though perhaps that works for some).

I once asked an editor at one of the Big Five publishers about balancing traditional with new media advertising, and she said to do all of the traditional stuff and to then do the new media stuff until I dropped. That may have been realistic for success with a Big Five publisher, but it’s hardly possible for the average author who wants to have family time, personal pursuits, or some sort of spiritual practice each day.

I tried to follow her advice for a season, but over time I found that trying to dive into all of the social media marketing options out there at the same time meant I did all of them poorly.

He says he built an email list for a personal newsletter, which I hear is a strong marketing technique. Readers respond to email solicitations more than social media links, especially if they believe they have already gotten a good return from the emails they’ve received up to that point. There are different ways to do this. The main idea is to recognize and utilize your strengths.

Tips on Becoming a Prolific Writer

Bestselling author James Scott Bell has a few good ideas about how to write well and push yourself to produce.

I was 34 years old and hadn’t written much of anything for ten years (I’d been told in college that you can’t learn how to write fiction, and since I couldn’t write fiction—fiction that was any good, anyway––I figured I just didn’t have it). So when I made the decision to finally go for it, even if I failed, I wanted to make up for lost time.

He’s produced a good bit of work since then, so here are a few ideas on increasing your writing productivity. (via Nick Harrison)

‘Final Hour,’ by Dean Koontz

Dean Koontz has a new novel, Ashley Bell, coming out next month. In the run-up, he’s releasing two related novellas which share a character with that book.

The first one was Last Light, which I read and enjoyed, but didn’t review. But I’m reviewing Final Hour. I liked them both.

The main character of each book is a beautiful young woman, Makani Hisoka-O’Brien. She’s a native of Hawaii, but lives in southern California where she restores classic cars and surfs at the expert level. She loves her island home and her family, but has left them to save her relationship with both. This is because she’s cursed with a supernatural gift – she can tell, through touch, any person’s darkest secrets. This makes it impossible for her to have close relationships, except with her black Labrador, Bob, and her boyfriend, “Pogo,” who is (apparently) pure of heart.

The simple premise of this story is that one day Makani brushes the arm of a jogger, another beautiful young woman. She realizes in an instant that this woman has a twin, and that she is holding that twin prisoner in a secret place and starving her to death.

There’s no question what Makani has to do. With the help of Bob and Pogo, she sets out to rescue the captive.

It’s a great story, with some excellent writing – I especially liked one chapter title: “She Walks in Beauty Like a Polyester Resin.”

There’s a very neat twist at the end.

Recommended. I’m looking forward to Ashley Bell.

Will These Things Make You Happy?

Will Things Make You Happy?

An early holiday shopping message from Puritan preacher Thomas Brooks:

“Christians act below their spiritual birth and their holy calling, when they suffer their hearts to be troubled and perplexed for the want of temporal things. Could they read special love in such gifts? Would their happiness lie in the enjoyment of them? Nay then, believer, let not the want of those things trouble thee, the enjoyment of which could never make thee happy.”

Is Third-Wave Coffee Selling Out?

Peet’s Coffee & Tea recently bought out Stumptown Coffee Roasters and became a majority shareholder in Intelligentsia a few weeks after that. Does that mean delicious third-wave coffee companies are selling out?

“Many in the core community of specialty coffee cite Peet’s as something of a Moses figure, guiding coffee appreciation out of the Egypt that is burnt-rubber tasting commodity-grade coffee,” Jimmy Sherfey explains on Eater.com. Peet’s was a pioneer in developing a market for rich, flavorful coffee. The company has even trained many of its now competitors

 puts an ugly spin on the recent decisions. “Peet’s move is similar to that of the titan Saturn in Roman mythology, who devoured his own children so they would not overthrow him. In Peet’s case, it’s the grandchildren who are trouble.”

But company execs tell Sherfey they are “looking to fill the fast-growing demand for their coffee, which both Stumptown and Intelligentsia cite as reasons for the mergers. ‘Frankly, we were just running out of space,’ says [Matt] Lounsbury. [Doug] Zell cites “restrictions on resources’ at Intelligentsia leading up to the acquisition. ‘We could only grow at a certain rate given our internal economics.'”

Now, the new, large roasting family hopes they can create opportunities for producers to deliver great coffee at great prices that will sustain and renew their farming communities.

Joan Didion on Her Writing

For #NaNoWriMo, read a bit from Joan Didion:

Paris Review: You have said that writing is a hostile act; I have always wanted to ask you why.

Didion: It’s hostile in that you’re trying to make somebody see something the way you see it, trying to impose your idea, your picture. It’s hostile to try to wrench around someone else’s mind that way. Quite often you want to tell somebody your dream, your nightmare. Well, nobody wants to hear about someone else’s dream, good or bad; nobody wants to walk around with it. The writer is always tricking the reader into listening to the dream.

PR: I wonder if your ethic—what you call your “harsh Protestant ethic”—doesn’t close things up for you, doesn’t hinder your struggle to keep all the possibilities open.

Didion: I suppose that’s part of the dynamic. I start a book and I want to make it perfect, want it to turn every color, want it to be the world. Ten pages in, I’ve already blown it, limited it, made it less, marred it. That’s very discouraging. I hate the book at that point. After a while I arrive at an accommodation: Well, it’s not the ideal, it’s not the perfect object I wanted to make, but maybe—if I go ahead and finish it anyway—I can get it right next time. Maybe I can have another chance.

Where’s an Encyclopedia Brown Movie?

The case of the missing Encyclopedia Brown movie is explained by Mental Floss. Cutting to the chase a bit:

Finally, Deutsch reached a deal with HBO in 1988. The network that put Fraggle Rock on the map was interested in expanding their children’s entertainment brand and ordered a live-action Encyclopedia Brown special that led into a recurring series. Producers filmed the pilot in Provo, Utah, and the episodes were well-received.

Deutsch then did something unexpected. After just six episodes, he insisted on breaking away from the network, which puzzled them. “The idea of a producer taking his show off the air that was successful, that was so good, and so far ahead of its time that it made my career is [mind-boggling],” show co-producer Ned Kandel told The New York Times in 2005.

There’s a lot more drama in the article.

I loved these books when I was a kid. I’m pretty sure I bought them with my own money at the school book fair. I don’t remember which ones.

Motives for Attending a Funeral

The Quote Investigator relates this story. “In 1953 an Associated Press reporter described his experiences in Moscow after the death of the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. The journalist reported the caustic comment of an unnamed Russian:

I saw Muscovites by the countless thousands shuffle through the cold March days and nights, in long lines that stretched for miles into the suburbs, to see the dead body of the grim dictator.

One Russian whispered to me: “They’ve come to make sure he’s really dead.

But that isn’t the only account of someone suggesting he or many others had attended a funeral for this purpose. Read on for more.

The Most Evangelical Founding Father

Thomas Kidd, who has written on Patrick Henry and George Whitefield and is writing on Benjamin Franklin, offers this glimpse into the life of one of the lesser known founders of America.

Perhaps the most evangelical of all the Founding Fathers, however, is one whom few Americans recall today: Elias Boudinot. Baptized as an infant in Philadelphia by the great evangelist George Whitefield, Boudinot embraced and defended evangelical principles throughout his prominent career as a Patriot in New Jersey and U.S. government official.

Did Lewis Write Screwtape in a Larger Fictional Context?

Do you view C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters as a standalone work? A Pilgrim in Narnia has discovered something that may indicate Lewis intended his collection of demonic letters to be part of a larger fictional context.

The Screwtape Letters begins with a letter of its own. “I have no intention of explaining how the correspondence which I now offer to the public fell into my hands. There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils.” Your copy of this work attributes this letter to Lewis himself, but one early edition attributes it to someone else, a character from another of Lewis’s works. Brenton Dickieson spells out more details here.

What If We Called It Befuddling Tales?

From our Tell Us That Story Again desk come these headlines:

    • Greatest American Hero is returning to TV under the direction of Rick Famuyiwa, Phil Lord & Chris Miller. Lord and Miller are the men behind The LEGO Movie and several other laudable efforts.
    • Col. Steve Austin is returning to the screen in 2017 as The Six Billion Dollar Man. There’s a rumor he will have to deal with hundreds of angry cowboys before wrangling thousands of deadly aliens. And there may be ninjas too.
    • Amazing Stories 1952-08CBS is going to return to classic Star Trek and create new stories with familiar characters. Rumors say a recurring storyline will have the Enterprise crew wrangling a pesky cyborg on Earth.
    • And believing the public may be tiring of all this new stuff and have a hankering for the return of a classic favorite, the sci-fi/fantasy series Amazing Stories has been approved for a return. Furious D spells out how the show might work and some pitfalls to avoid. I’d love to see a series of individual episodes that touch on a larger story, which may eventually take over every episode, but if it’s truly an anthology series with different kinds of stories, then they may want to break it up a good bit.

Tom Wolfe in the NYPL

The papers of the Man in the White Suit, Tom Wolfe, have been acquired by the New York Public Library, making him “officially an Important Writer,” as Oliver Wiseman states. The papers have been made available to the public only recently. (via Prufrock)

Wolfe has not published a memoir or autobiography. In general he leaves himself out of his writing. But the career of Tom Wolfe, as told by Tom Wolfe, is the story of an outsider swimming against the tide, first in non-fiction and then in novels. Things got interesting when a strike knocked out New York’s newspapers in 1963. “You weren’t going to catch me on a picket line,” Wolfe said in an interview several years ago. “So I went to Esquire with a story about custom cars.” That article, his first magazine piece, was originally titled “There Goes (Varoom! Varoom!) That Kandy-Kolored (Thphhhhh!) Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby (Rahghhh!) Around the Bend! (Brummmmmmmmmmmmmmm) . . .” Tom Wolfe was already Tom Wolfe.

National Paragraph Writing Month

The Millions is launching a new initiative in coordination with National Novel Writing Month (#NaNoWriMo).

We are launching #NaGrafWriMo in recognition of all the writers with jobs and family obligations, and those who just spend an ungodly amount of time on the Internet, who find it hard to read a whole book in a month, much less write one. But we are also embarking on this new program because we have found that, for most writers, it can take more talent, determination, and hard work to write one good paragraph than an entire lousy book.

Here, here to more good paragraphs and fewer lousy books.

Book Reviews, Creative Culture