OGB released!

It’s out! Took a bit longer than expected due to some cover issues. But here’s the link, if you feel tempted. And this is one occasion when giving in to temptation can only be good 🙂 For the moment it’s just the e-version, the paperback will be up in a few days. There are many people I’ve thanked in the acknowledgements, so here I’ll just say thank you to Aaron Meizius, who not only accepted it for publication but has been cooperative and supportive throughout the process.

I haven’t done a quarter of what one should in terms of promotion, so now I’ll have to get stuck into that. OGB is released, but the real work is only just beginning. Competitions, giveaways and things like that. In fact why don’t I start straightaway? Yes! For the next two weeks a free pdf version is available to anyone promising to write an Amazon review afterwards. As far as I can tell, honest Amazon reviews are the single most effective means of getting noticed. So if you want to share your opinion, click here to receive the free version, or write directly to curtis.bausse(at)outlook.com

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Speaking of covers, I ran a poll a while ago asking readers choose their favourite. Most opted for the black cover – the red one was third. But when I asked a couple of marketing experts, they said, ‘Oh, no. If it’s on an internet page, you’ve got to go for the red. Stands out better.’ So there you go. I thought I was being all democratic, but power today is with the marketers. As Stendhal no doubt realised, since he covered both angles very cleverly.

Sunday Poem: First Words to Grammar

grammar

Rounding up the current series from the collection Poems Inspired by Second Hand Books on Sale on Amazon:

Though babies bawl and puke and smell

And generally have little glamour,

The marvel is they learn so well

The passage from first words to grammar.

The language matters not, forsooth,

From Almaty to Alabama

It grows inside like their first tooth

As they progress from words to grammar.

And we as parents watch with pride,

Despite the odd mistake or stammer,

Our offspring take within their stride

That magic step – first words to grammar.

The three R’s: Writing, Reading, Reviewing

My arithmetic skills having long since withered, my third R these days is reviewing, which I don’t do enough of. That’s partly because I don’t do enough reading, in fact, so I ought to reduce the first R to get more time for the other two. But if I did that, I’d be unhappy, so for the moment it’s staying as it is. Nonetheless, as I look ever deeper into self-publishing, the importance of reviewing becomes more obvious. A sizeable batch of reviews on Amazon and Goodreads helps to attract more reviews – it’s a snowball effect. Fewer than thirty, and you’re unlikely to make much of an impact – readers tend to dismiss them as the usual 5-star hype by friends and family. More than fifty reviews, though, and people start to take notice.

I’ve only been on Goodreads a short while, but one thing you see straightaway is that the books with the most reviews are the ones that need them least. The first book I rated (5 stars) was Kate Atkinson’s Life after Life. I didn’t write a review, though, because it already had 15,248, and I said to myself that I’d rather write reviews which could actually make a difference. So I wrote one (4 stars) for The Attic Piranhas by Marlin Williams, which currently has six reviews on Goodreads and 13 on Amazon.

Nonetheless, despite my writing commitments, I’m trying to make time for the other two R’s. I was recently a beta reader for William Chasterson’s intriguing Metaphysical Man, and I’ve just posted a couple of reviews on Goodreads. One for Clara Wiggins’s very well-written Expat Partner’s Survival Guide, the other for Casting Shadows Everywhere by L.T. Vargus. This, then, is the modest start to my Help Other Authors campaign, which others, such as The Story Reading Ape, have taken to admirable heights. And here’s a quote from Sally Cronin at smorgasbord which gives it a concrete basis: We are always hearing about the overwhelming number of Indie authors and the number of books we are competing with in the market place. However, instead of being overwhelmed, take a look at your circle of author contacts and instead of trying to make a difference to all Indie authors, how about as a group making a difference to twenty or thirty. If we all did that we would be supporting thousands within a very short space of time.

Sound advice indeed, and I’ll be posting more about the three R’s in future. Meanwhile, Amazon is asking me to rate the first issue of The World Unknown Review, volume 1. I bought it a month ago because it has a story by Book Country writer D.J. Lutz, but I haven’t started it yet. Give me a chance, guys – gotta do some writing myself!

Barefoot on Lego

One of these days, I’m going to take the time to understand Twitter. Just writing that sentence means I’ve come a long way – it used to be a different planet altogether, which I had no inkling or intention ever to visit. I still don’t get it, much less live there, but I’ve visited, breathed the atmosphere, despatched a few tweets and followed some of its inhabitants. But that’s about it so far, which on its own is pretty pointless. When I do explore in earnest, I could do worse than start with a case study of L.T. Vargus. Now, when I follow a twitter user (most of them are writers), I often get a message along the lines of “Thxs for the follow. Check out my novel XYZ at buymybook.com.” Sometimes I do, because after all, writers support other writers, right? But it doesn’t often go further than that, because according to my calculations, if I got them all, I’d end up with 1.2 zillion books and be reading for my next 98 reincarnations.

What L.T. Vargus wrote was, “I’d step on a Lego barefoot to get you to read my book’s free sample. Don’t make me do it!” I thought that was funny so I didn’t make her do it. And I ended up reading Casting Shadows Everywhere and liking it. So now I must write a review of it. Which reminds me, one of these days I’m going to take the time to understand Goodreads.

Sunday Poem: Memory

memory

When I retired, a delicious month was spent clearing shelves and drawers of years of accumulated documents. Then came the books. Some were kept, some given away, and a handful put up on Amazon, where they’ve languished ever since. So to draw attention to these amazing offers, I’m writing a poem to accompany them.

I said to my mate, “What makes us human?

He said to me, “I haven’t a clue, man.

Is it our brain, our amazing memory,

Or else our final rest, a cemetery?”

I said to him, “You mean dead and gone? Why?

Surely all creatures on earth have to die?”

“But only we know – that makes us human.”

I said to him, “Wow! That could be true, man.”

Bringing the homeless to life

homeless_shoe_shiner_by_jonnydexter-d3l5o65

Photo: Jonny Dexter http://fav.me/d3l5o65

This reblog Wednesday post is to draw attention to a blog as a whole, rather than a specific post. Namely Dennis Cardiff’s Gotta Find a Home, devoted to his encounters with homeless people. Dennis has written a book based on those encounters, in which the stories of individuals emerge, each one unique in their own way. Just as every person is unique, so is every homeless person – an obvious point too easily overlooked. To many of us, including myself, ‘the homeless’ are indeterminate, unheard and invisible. By giving them a voice, Dennis Cardiff restores them to humanity.

OGB update + poll

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A perfectly timed 201 assignment today! Allows me to (i) give a brief update on One Green Bottle and (ii) collect your thoughts. What more could I ask for?

(i) OGB is now one of the editor’s picks on Book Country. Not entirely sure what that means but it can only be good! Meanwhile, after scouring query shark, I realised my own query letter sucks. So I’ve done it again and soon it’ll be off to more agents.

(ii) The survey below is really quick and easy. Just a few yes/no questions, but your answers will be much appreciated!

Novel Update: Which way in?

22Belsize

It was a long street, lined with brightly lit houses on either side. Dusk was falling and a cold wind was blowing from the north. Though the curtains were drawn and the windows shut, he heard the sound of music and laughter at every house he passed. He paused and listened: scraps of surplus revelry tossed to a tramp.

After a while, he plucked up the courage to knock on one of the doors. A butler cautiously opened it, peering through the gap. Not unfriendly, but not hospitable either. ‘Do you have an invitation? In that case, I’m sorry. I suggest you try elsewhere.’

But everywhere, the answers were the same. ‘I’m afraid not…’ ‘Don’t be disheartened…’ ‘Perhaps further down the road…’ Some didn’t bother to come to the door.

Cold and hungry, he stood on the pavement, brooding. He was about to leave when someone tapped him on the shoulder. ‘Why don’t you go round the back? Here, follow me.’

They walked together down a narrow path, pushed open a creaky door, and found themselves in a long, dingy corridor. It was packed with shadowy figures, some leaning against the wall, others sprawled on the floor. There was barely enough room to move.

‘It’s not great, I know,’ his new friend said. ‘But it’s better than outside. At least there’s a bit of warmth. And sometimes we get a few crumbs. Why don’t you find a space, make yourself comfy? I know it’s not what you wanted, but you’ll get used to it…’


My question now: stripped of the fancy metaphor, is that a fair description of the writer’s dilemma? Either you trudge from door to door, getting turned away by agents and publishers, or else you go through the self-publishing back door and huddle in the dark with thousands of others. To Amazon it’s all the same: a single author selling 5 million copies or a million authors each selling five.

I don’t know. I’m reading contradictory reports. It is possible, apparently, with enough hard work and marketing savvy, for self-published authors to emerge, if only a little, from the obscurity. But how many do? And those that don’t – do they regret taking that option?

So far I’ve knocked on 13 doors with One Green Bottle. 8 refusals, 5 no answers. It’s not a lot, I know. Some people try a hundred or more. So I guess I’ll keep on knocking, displaying the same hopeful smile to every butler I see. But at the same time, maybe it’s worth taking a peek round the back to get genned up on the alternative.

I’m still at the start of my journey. So I’d be very happy to hear from anyone who’s ventured further than me 🙂