New Podler Closed

This post explains it all. The short version is that I realized I was spending too much time promoting other authors instead of promoting myself and, more importantly, writing. With no one to take over administrative duties, I had no choice but to shut it down. Six and a half years was long enough.

I’m about a quarter of the way through Gateway to Empire, the sequel to Armistice Day. My plan is to finish, edit, and publish it this year. It might be too ambitious, but time is not something any of us has in infinite supply. My health has been “sub par” the last six weeks (multiple hits, not one thing), and it serves as a frustrating reminder of the frailty of the flesh.

Anyway, it is my hope that the new year finally brings forth some creative output from yours truly.


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Interview of Rob Steiner

Over on the New Podler blog, I interviewed Rob Steiner, my friend and author of the Codex Antonius trilogy and more. We discuss Ancient Rome, bacteria, and mixing science with religion in fiction.


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Interview of Michael John Grist

Over at the New Podler blog is my interview with Mr. Ruins author, Michael John Grist. We discuss his exploration of modern ruins, the malleability of memory, and touch on Ralph Waldo Emerson.


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A Review of Armistice Day

Reviews are difficult to get. So when I get one, I need to draw attention to it. Even the critical ones. It’s quick. Have a look.

On the bright side, I’ve had time to work on Gateway, and I believe that it addresses her points. I just wish I could devote more time to it. I’m only about 20% done.


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Interview with M. Terry Green

Over at the New Podler Review of Books is an interview with my friend (and author) Terry Green.


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Blog It and They Will Come

Clark Stanley's Snake Oil LinimentLast week I received an email from a reputable indie publishing blogger inviting me to a webinar where I could learn how to double my sales from a successful indie author. It sounded too good to be true, but since this was a reputable indie publishing blogger, I decided to give it a shot.

The webinar was packed full of writers, and many went around introducing themselves and where they were from. Judging from the introductions, many were either new writers working on their first book or veterans struggling with limited sales of their first book or two. You can put me in the latter category.

The successful indie author hosted the webinar and (surprise) primarily spent his time plugging his new book, which featured ways that indie authors everywhere could double their sales. He started off relating what he did and gave case studies demonstrating how so-and-so applied the techniques from the book and saw their sales blossom. But every example he gave involved a non-fiction author. And our successful host was a non-fiction author as well. I complained in the audience chat that all we were seeing were non-fiction examples. Anyone with a clue about publishing knows that selling non-fiction is completely different from selling fiction. Several other attendees agreed with me.

People buy non-fiction for a very specific purpose, and it can be anything. You can look up books on shade gardening in New England, building websites for mobile devices, Theodore Roosevelt’s childhood years at Oyster Bay, or meatball recipes. People buy fiction just to be entertained, but the specifics are limited. It typically isn’t anything more than “alien invasion sci-fi”, assuming that “sci-fi” isn’t as far down the genre tree as one can go. Nobody looks for “alien invaders from Barnard’s Star with trilateral symmetry who choose Africa as ground zero”. And even if they wanted to, they couldn’t as that level of detail in sub-categories doesn’t exist.

I’m not sure how much of the webinar I can relate here without trampling on someone’s copyright, but I’ll try anyway. One major suggestion was to convert readers into fans. The thinking was to sell product to the fans like how projects on Kickstarter offer tiers of rewards to people who donate more money to their projects. It’s an interesting idea, provided you already have a readership, and someone willing to spend $50 on your 3D printed figurine of the half-elf heroine from your epic fantasy.

Fortunately for successful non-fiction indie author, he already had a readership when he applied this method. I consider that an unfair advantage. Indie fiction authors want to know what they can do to make their first paranormal romance novel, for example, stand out from the thousands of other paranormal romance novels. How does one build that initial readership?

The suggestions for fiction authors were limited. We’re supposed to give away short stories for free on our website, and we should blog about the writing process.

That was it.

Don’t sell your short stories to zines, give them away for free on your website. But the real kicker was: Blog it and they will come. Because people looking for books to read really want to just read the random thoughts of some random person.

Now blogging has been incredibly successful for some people, though they tend to be journalists and pundits. John Scalzi sold his first book to Tor because one of its editors read his blog (He didn’t even have to bother with the indie scene). But how many of these success stories are out there? And why was that gentleman reading that blog in the first place? There has to be some sort of connection to the blogger and his/her readership. But if I had a dollar for every blogger that fizzled out, or never got past a dozen readers (like my blogs), I could pay off my mortgage (and then some).

I don’t have an answer for you. I’m certainly not a best-selling author. I’d say keep trying your hand at social media. Make sure your work has been edited and hire a professional to create your cover. Whether you view it as art or product, it’s important that you produce your best work. One option to try is to just keep writing. A lot. Maybe if you have enough books out there, someone will stumble into one and it’ll start a chain reaction.

Anyone who’s found a technique that works should feel free to share it in the comments. Please, share it. I don’t mind you plugging your success, so long as you don’t try to sell me a book claiming that it will make me successful, cure baldness, have me waking up every day feeling rejuvenated, or help me lose ten pounds without dieting or exercise.


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More eBook Formats for Latest Book

We'll Watch the Sunrise from the Bottom of the SeaI finally put We’ll Watch the Sunrise from the Bottom of the Sea on Smashwords. It only took me a year. So if you love eBooks but don’t use a Kindle, you can find your preferred version there. While Smashwords has stated that it has already been distributed to other retail outlets, I don’t know how long it will take before it shows up in their respective databases. Hopefully only a couple of days.


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Scribbidedy Scrabbedy Scribd

Smashwords made a deal with Scribd. As Armistice Day is on Smashwords, it is now on Scribd, though I have no idea how you’ll find it. I activated my one-year free membership with Scribd. We’ll see what that does. Probably nothing. Can anyone tell me what the frack I’m supposed to do on Scribd to promote myself as an author? I admit that I don’t have a clue.


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Overdue Thoughts on the Nutmeg Book Festival

Me at the Nutmeg Book FestivalHere I am looking all bright-eyed and caffeinated (note the Monster) just before the start of the festival. And I would have a great time. I met fellow indie authors, fielded questions from interested readers, and hung out with friends who stopped by to show support. I was sorry that it had to end (and I had to bolt to get home to drive Alex down to NYC for a hockey game). With any luck, Terri and Sharon (Thank you!) will invite me back for next year’s event, which doesn’t give me much time to get the next book done.

I sat next to Martha Edmond Bishop, who was simply marvelous. She’s the author of Rafe’s Grand Performance (Info, Buy it), and her enthusiasm for her craft was wonderful. She built this diorama—it’s a hobby of hers—that featured the characters from her book. She even had a raven perched on her shoulder, which the kids loved. She regaled me with her resourcefulness at finding material for her dioramas and her life story. I had a great time just listening to her talk—the sign of a truly great storyteller.

I’m not good at self-promotion—not a great trait for an indie author—so when people approach me and ask me to tell them about either me or my work, I struggle (Yes, yes, low self-esteem, self-worth and all of that. I’ve got it, not going into it here.). But it was good to have the opportunity to talk with would-be readers about my work and the writing process. And I guess I did a good enough job as I sold several copies of both books.

All in all, it was a good day, and I wish there were more of them.


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Nutmeg Book Festival Is This Saturday

And by “this Saturday” I mean November 23rd.

New Milford Train StationIf you live near New Milford, CT and you’ve got nothing to do, why not come on down and check out the Nutmeg Book Festival. I will be among twenty indie and small press authors present, meeting the public, signing books, and socializing. Sadly, I believe this to be a beer-less event.

More information about the location, author roster, and genres represented can be found on the website (No longer exists). Hope to see you there.


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