A sweet, touching, funny animated short won the Oscar last night: “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore.” It’s not only a dear tribute to the power of books, but it opens with a fierce and funny animated hurricane that recalls Dorothy’s exit to Oz in a tornado. Here’s the film.
It’s been a month since my virtual book launch. I self-published Funnel Vision in hopes of not just sales – I don’t have dollar signs in my eyes, despite the success of a few self-published authors – but in the hopes of gaining readers for a novel that I have lived with for a long time.
Still, people are curious about sales, so I can say I’m now in the 20 percent club – books that have sold more than a hundred copies. I hit that mark a couple of weeks in. Sales did well in the first few weeks thanks to a lot of great support during the launch. They’ve slumped in the past week, but dips are to be expected, I think. I hope. And despite modest sales, it’s done pretty well in customer-review rankings. If you looked today in the two Amazon genres in which the Kindle edition is listed, it was No. 34 in top-rated romantic suspense and No. 139 in top-rated action-adventure (a HUGE category, so – hooray!). But I’m pretty sure these review rankings don’t really help get a book discovered by the masses. It takes being in the top 100 in sales on any given list. And that goal is many, many thousands of rungs above me on Amazon’s ladders.
Sales aside, it’s really interesting seeing the book reviews come in. I’ve been lucky in receiving some nice ones on Amazon, even from people I don’t know or don’t know well. But as it’s not about the sales, it’s also not necessarily about the stars (though you’ve gotta love ’em). I am fascinated by readers’ reaction to the story, which is still something I’m thinking about every day as I write a sequel. Could a reader really be friends with my heroine? Is the hero sexy or despicable? I love to read these thoughts, no matter how disparate, because it means people are reading the story and, gosh darn it, having a reaction. And isn’t that what we want as writers? On the other hand, I have to be careful not to let these lovely voices get inside my head as I continue writing in this fictional world. I have to let my characters find their own way.
If you want to weigh in and haven’t read this storm-chasing adventure, the e-book is only $2.99 on Kindle and Nook. It’s also available in paperback. Get more info and see the book trailer here. Happy chasing!
I had the pleasure of speaking with Court Lewis, host of American Variety Radio on select public-radio stations, about storm chasing and my novel “Funnel Vision” for a show that will air starting this week. Catch it at 8:30 p.m. this Thursday on WETS 89.5 FM (Tri-Cities, Tennessee); at 7:30 a.m. Sunday on WFIT 89.5 FM (Melbourne, Florida); at 4:30 p.m. Sunday on WMFE 90.7 FM (Orlando, Florida) and 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 15, on WQCS 88.9 FM (Fort Pierce, Florida). Or you can always catch it in the archives online after it airs.
If you missed me on Nerdy@30 on Blog Talk Radio, listen here. That was a lot of fun, too. Host Marcus Kastler lives in Kansas, so he has firsthand knowledge of severe storms.
I had a great time today chatting with UCF students in online classes. Great questions. My madly typing fingers got a great workout. Does your group need a speaker, or would your book club like to discuss ‘Funnel Vision’? Let me know.
My brain was so full after last weekend’s Space Coast Writers’ Guild conference in Cocoa Beach that I think it took a whole week to digest the information I gathered there. The truth about a writers’ conference is that, even if you don’t get practical advice (though you pretty much always do), you’re going to get inspiration. You’re surrounded by ambitious writers, by smart authors and editors and literary agents, and no amount of mediocre hotel food can turn off your appetite for everyone’s enthusiasm. You go home wanting to plot, and write, and do all the things it takes to get your book out into the world. Make that books. Which leads us into five takeaways I got this time around:
1. Your writing career isn’t about getting one book published. It’s about writing and publishing multiple books. Agents and editors are looking for career writers, not one-tome wonders. Even if you’re doing the self-publishing thing, the one sure way to build fans is to write multiple books so they have somewhere to go when they’ve finished reading the first one. To write all those books, you need the discipline to write every day, even if you have another job. There are no shortcuts. And while one project is well under way, another (or two) should always be in the works. (Thanks, author Davis Bunn.)2. Most writers have another job. Most writers don’t get rich writing. Even authors published by big houses can’t necessarily support themselves by their writing. Your fortune is not assured by a publishing contract. Oh, yeah, and if you sell five books at a conference, you’re doing great! (Thanks, agent/author Lois Winston.)
3. The dream of getting your book into the big bookstore above all else may be misplaced. While it’s lovely to get your book into the big bookstore, more book sales take place online now than in stores. And even though it’s important to know your genre so you can market your book and pick the appropriate categories for it, self-published or not, keywords and online marketing may be just as important as being on a particular shelf. (Thanks, Cadence Group‘s Bethany Brown.)
4. Don’t fear Twitter. It’s a great way to (a) raise awareness of your own books, but (b) even better, learn from other writers and publishing industry types. This is a message I conveyed in my session on how to present yourself professionally to the press, but it was echoed in many sessions during the weekend. Social-media immersion continues to be important, as long as you keep in mind it’s not all about self-promotion. The experts say 70 percent of what you post shouldn’t be tooting your own horn. Share knowledge, share links, and respond to other folks online. In other words, be the person you want to listen to. (Thanks, Jeremy Reis.)
5. This may be the age of DIY self-publishing, but the key to success at self-pubbing is to be just as professional as the pros. Have a professional cover, a professional interior design, and professionally edited text. Readers can smell an amateur project a mile off, and they won’t respect your book if it’s not done well. And as much as we writers would like to hide in our respective garrets/basements/ivory towers and write, and have someone else carry our book outside, package it and share it with the world, that’s our job, too, more than ever. We’re all doing our own marketing. Horrible word, right? So think of it as sharing. Make friends, be supportive of other writers, do your research, spread the word, and people – with luck – will discover your book. Because in the end, it’s not about the money and the fame, both of which are in short supply. At least for me, it’s about the love, it’s about telling the stories, and it’s about finding readers for my book – and writing the next one. See point No. 1.