I was doing some social media surfing this morning, catching up on the good stuff at Writer Beware’s Facebook page, on another literary agency helping its clients “self” publish e-books, and checking out random thoughts on Twitter. I was led to the blog of Amanda Hocking, whose career I’ve been following with interest, since she’s been such a mega-success with self-published e-books on Kindle. And anyone who is considering publishing an e-book, myself included, can’t help but wonder how she did it. Obviously, people like her books, and they’re cheaper than a cup of gourmet coffee. To make my own judgment, I just read her “My Blood Approves” on Kindle for iPhone, a very tiny way to read, but convenient for airplanes and solo lunches. It’s a simple story in the teen vampire-lust genre, and if I hadn’t read “Twilight,” I might have been more intrigued, but I found it derivative. Then again, aren’t all vampire stories derivative? As she has confessed, there are also some irritating errors a copy editor would have caught, but the writing is mostly clean and direct, and I can see why younger readers might get into it. I don’t feel compelled to read the rest, but it was a bargain at 99 cents. Hocking’s new trilogy, which is being reissued by St. Martin’s, may tempt me later on, but for now, my curiosity is satisfied.
As a very recent graduate of a long career in newspapers, much of which was spent writing about books, I’ve found the decision to self-publish agonizing. I’m about 90 percent there, now. Self-published books are slowly getting more respect, but the majority of them simply aren’t good, and when one came across my desk as a writer or editor, I viewed it with skepticism that was often validated. Yet a self-published book that is well-edited, with a good cover and interior design, will get more props than a crappy one any day.
I’ve been through the mill of agent rejections, often getting to the stage of them wanting to read the entire manuscript, but it hasn’t worked out. Maybe because the story is hard to categorize. It’s not pure thriller, romance, Literature or comedy, yet it’s an adventure with elements of all the above. I believe in the work. And I’m not getting any younger. It’s time to put it out there. I have no illusions of success like Ms. Hocking’s, but then again, I’m not writing vampire novels or mysteries featuring cocktails or long-legged dames on the cover. Yet!
All that aside, at the bottom of Hocking’s blog, which is well worth reading for its inside view of both self-publishing and “real” publishing, there was a neat little gadget that completely absorbed my attention for five minutes. It’s the fish (above). They follow your cursor around, and when you click, they eat the “food” you leave. We live in a world of gadgets, widgets and apps, all designed for our short attention spans. Distractions are everywhere. But now I have to get back to photo editing and writing. Go fish.