Dear Friends and Family
My writing, which I love, needs ten minutes of your time.
I have posted the first chapter of my next novel, SEEDS AND SECRETS, on WattPad, here: It will take you ten minutes to read it. If you do, you will be helping my writing career more than you can even begin to imagine. If you vote for it, you will help it even more.WattPad is a site where writers can post their work and other people can read it at no charge. They can also vote for it (which will increase the number of other readers who come to discover it), and they can “follow” writers whose stories they like, so they are notified by email when subsequent chapters in a book are posted. The more people who read and like a story, the more who will be directed to it via the site itself (computer algorithms take care of this).
SEEDS AND SECRETS is a novel about a woman who inadvertently discovers a magic formula that helps her to get younger, or at least to stay the same age. Some of you will remember that I wrote a first draft of this book when I was living in Saskatchewan, which is where the novel takes place. With your help, I will write this book and publish it in chapters (the way Charles Dickens used to do with his). This book and your help can turn my career around.
Here’s why I need your Help
Mine is a career of which I despair almost daily. I love the novels I have written — they are like my babies — and my heart is breaking because thanks to the self-defeating pig-headed snottiness of the media, almost no one knows they exist.
I believe it’s sites like WattPad that will help readers discover the good writers of the future. (Those and an increasing but still modest number of intelligent book blogs.) As you know, I am part of the first edge of established writers who have chosen to move away from the established publishing route, and go “indie.” With publishers going down the tubes and/or intent on publishing only novels that are sure to become runaway bestsellers (i.e., those written by movie-stars and inexperienced young first-time writers who look hot in interviews), for most of us, self-publishing is the way of the future and more and more of us are choosing to “go indie” – as musicians did before us. I have been co-presenting as part of a series of workshops put on by The Writers’ Union of Canada (TWUC) on how to get your back-list title into print, or how to start out your career as a writer independently of publishers, and the sessions have been packed. TWUC has voted to start admitting self-published writers whose books meet a peer-reviewed standard of excellence. Every day there are more and more of us out here. But it’ll be another few years before you read about any of our books in the media.
As a result this is a very, very difficult time for those of us who are striving to produce really good books ourselves. We have the technology and contacts and experience to produce well written, well-edited, fun and thoughtful books, but we don’t have any way of letting readers know about them. Self-published books are considered by media outlets like CBC, the Globe and Mail, the New York Times, to be the poor cousins begging at the door. We are utterly ignored — the books we send for consideration are ignored, our follow-up emails are ignored, recommendations from friends in the business are ignored (by Writers and Company and Between the Covers at CBC, to name two): at this point in time, everything that has the “eau de self-publishing” is ignored (unless it cannot be ignored, Like Fifty Shades of Grey. Which is not even real writing), It’s true that the majority of self-published fiction IS crap — I wouldn’t read or review most of it myself — but it is the self-published writing that is NOT crap that threatens the whole already crumbling network of publishers, booksellers and review outlets for reasons I’ve gone into elsewhere on this blog. So it is ignored. They ignore US to protect THEMSELVES.
The reviewers do not seem to realize that by not accepting the changes that are taking place as a result of writers taking their own careers in their own hands, they are shooting themselves in their own foreheads. They are making themselves obsolete. Their old-boys network is not safe: it is about to fall around them.
In the interim, however, thanks to the fact that there is no way to get my books reviewed, or start any word-of-mouth buzz about them since my friends who HAVE read them don’t realize how important it is for them to recommend them to other people, I’ve sold about 40 copies of each of my two most recent novels. Most of my fellow-author “friends” — who are usually great sources to one another of mouth-to-mouth recommendations — and all the outlets they control such as reading series, literary magazines, awards program, etc. — are also close to self-published authors. When I tell them I have self-published my most recent book most of them still turn up their noses at me as though I had begun to smell of something putrid. They have a big investment in the traditional publishing industry, too.When I read over excerpts from my last two novels (The Whole Clove Diet, which I am about to re-release as Rita Just Wants To Be Thin, so it’s unavailable right now), and The Adventures of Don Valiente and the Apache Canyon Kid, I feel like my heart is going to break. I cannot even begin to explain to you how discouraging it is to pour your heart and soul into writing a really wonderful novel (my opinion on this is echoed by those who HAVE read these two books, as you will see from the reviews on amazon.com) and to know that most of the world isn’t going to be able to find out about your book for another five years or so, when the world will catch up with you.
Helping is easy…..and free. And FUN!!!!!!!!
So please read the first chapter of Seeds and Secrets and then please tell your neighbors (and your neighbours) it is there. And tell them about my other books. I am drowning in obscurity. For now, you are the ONLY ones who can help.The one chapter I have posted so far on WattPad is free. If you want, you can sign up using a fake name so no one will know you are you. You can read WattPad stories on your laptop or your mobile device. And if you read my first chapter and like it, you can sign up to get the next chapter and the next as they are written. I hope to have the entire book done by the end of August.
The Book that’s Never Been Reviewed
In case you missed my most recent novel (and how could you NOT have missed it, since it has received ZERO reviews from any traditional outlets. ZERO. NONE.) you can check it out on Amazon. It is funny, bawdy, a great romp, a western based on Don Quixote (who ever heard of THAT insane combination). I wrote it with my dear friend John A. Aragon of Santa Fe, and I guarantee it is a better read than almost anything you will find out there. (I’m sick and tired of being modest. I can’t afford to be modest.)
Here’s the blurb for it.
The West will never be the same . . . .New Mexico, 1922.
The orphaned eighteen-year-old stablehand Rosalind Grundy is seduced by a married woman, and faces a lynching after the pair is surprised in flagrante delicto. But she manages to escape with the aid of a strange and aristocratic old man who calls himself Don Valiente.
Don Valiente, having read too many dime westerns, has come to believe that he is a famous gunfighter. He thinks Roz is a young man named Ross, and he takes her under his wing, intending to teach her and to revive “The Code Of The Caballeros.”
Don Valiente and Roz embark on a series of comic adventures. But when they come upon a grisly murder scene and the trail of three escaped-convict killers, Roz realizes that her only chance to survive the imminent showdown and to reunite with her true love lies in her ability to separate Don Valiente’s madness from the eternal truths in his teaching.
Here’s the link. The book is only $2.99 on Kindle, and if some people I actually know would actually buy it, other people would as well. That’s how this world of algorithms works.
You can also buy it in paperback.
If you feel like it, you can also tell the CBC and your local newspaper that I am worth reviewing, knowledgeable, and fun to interview. Although of course, that part isn’t necessary. If we just wait a while (three years?), they’ll come around. If they’re still in business.
With huge gratitude and even hugs in advance for your help, I remain your previously humble scribe.
I am sorry for you, as I am sorry for me. But there is a kind of ineluctable logic to what’s happening with self-publishing. Just as it has made possible the publication of solid work that’s been snubbed by legacy publishers and gatekeeper agents/editors, it has encouraged all kinds of scam artists and hucksters. The latter smell money in the pockets of talentless wannabes, ready and willing to shell out for “how-to” manuals, coaching, marketing plans and the rest of it. People who have read and written very little, now equipped with writing equivalents of paint-by-numbers “guides” are ginning up all kinds of drek. But most of these people are young, and savvy regarding social media. They will generate networks of so-called friends, people interested in belonging to something or someone, and who are therefore willing to support others by buying their books, never mind how lame the books may be. Too bad, but that, I think, is how it is. Someone may come up with a way of separating the wheat from the chaff, but not yet. Perhaps not ever.
I utterly agree, Barry, but I’m more optimistic than you are. I think that in a few years we will have new systems in place that allow readers to find great self-published books, and figure out how to buy them, but we aren’t there yet. However, on my few days so far on WattPad, I’ve discovered at least one really good writer, and many many examples of abysmal writers, both categories with tens of thousands of “readers” (whatever that means. I’ll be reporting more on this in an upcoming post). In the former category, I recommend The Gardener of Nahi by David Wozniak. I’m not even a sci-fi reader, but I was amazed. In the latter… well, the examples are legion. I’m not even going to provide the link on this one, but here’s the “come-on” written by the author.
The book is as bad as it sounds, but they ARE reading on. In droves. arghghg!
Yes, the writer does seem to be working through some, er, personal issues. But there’s nothing wrong with optimism, Mary. More power to you.
please change my email address to firstname.lastname@example.org
thank you SKS
Thanks, Susan. To do that, you need to go to email settings on your reader page (https://wordpress.com/settings/notifications/) and make the change there.
That first chapter of “Seeds and Secrets” makes the entire novel sound intriguing, Mary. I left a comment on Wattpad. There’s an ongoing discussion in the “Books and Writers” group of Linked In about self-publishing. The initiator urged would-be writers to stop giving away their material. But, another writer / editor asked why people think they should get paid for their writing, unless someone specifically commissioned them to do it. Check it out, if you want:
Thank you so much, Alejandro! I always enjoy reading your blog posts, so it’s nice to get feedback from someone I feel like I sort of virtually know!
I was in a couple of writers’ groups on LinkedIn that made me crazy, so I had to leave them. My experience with giving stuff away, though, is that it attracts readers who might buy other things you write, and sometimes they write great reviews or tell other people they admire your work, and (most importantly) it feels great to have someone reading your material. I write to be read. I’d rather have 200 people read what I have written for free than have five pay to read it. Of course, I would most like to have 200 people pay to read it, but small steps…. Look at all the musicians whose work is free on YouTube. I look at the music industry as our model.
With the WattPad book, I don’t intend to give it away forever. I just need an audience to prompt me to keep writing. Comments like yours really help. So thanks again.
You’re welcome, Mary. Your book does sound truly fascinating, so I’m not just trying to get on your good side. Besides, I’m always up for a good thriller of any kind! I understand how those discussions on Linked In can stoop into Facebook-type rants. Since LI is a professional networking site, you’d think folks would behave themselves. I responded to that one particular writer / editor by pointing out that people like to read, so in effect, yes, someone does ask for others to write. Whether anyone who makes an attempt at it can actually produce a coherent, likeable story, is purely subjective.
Some people think it’s so easy to write; that it doesn’t take much effort. They believe that writing, especially fiction writing, isn’t a “real” career. When I told my parents several years ago that my true ambition was to become a professional, published writer, they looked at me like I’d decided to be a professional gambler. The lack of respect writers often get is what prompted the lengthy writers’ strike in the late 1980s and again nearly 20 years later. The former almost bankrupted the state of California and had severe economic impacts across the U.S. But, the writers simply wanted to be paid for their efforts. After all, if it wasn’t for the writers, movies and TV programs just wouldn’t get made. Most performers aren’t smart enough to create characters and stories from scratch. But, since they become the faces of those characters and stories, they can demand outrageous salaries for their “work.”
Great comments, Alejandro.And you CAN write: I’ve been impressed by many of your blogs. Although (unfortunately) there are similarities between becoming a successful writer and becoming a gambler… You do need luck as well as skill and talent. :)
I just wanted to say that you really ought to be marketing your Don Valiente book as lesbian fiction, and selecting one of the sub-categories that goes with it. Lesbian fiction, although still niche, has a rabid fanbase of readers looking for good stories featuring queer characters.
Thank you, Tess! One lesbian writer told us that we could not market our book in that genre because neither of us was a (practicing) lesbian. She seemed to feel that we should give it to her (or some other higher authority) to “approve” or something before we touted that aspect of it. I guess we got a bit nervous about being accused of appropriation of voice after that little lecture. I’ll take your comment under advisement, though: maybe we can change the categories.