Friday, September 16, 2005

Friday Morning Sunshine (sometimes it's all you need.)

Yes, you pasty book lovers, get some sun and fresh air by joining us on the grand terrace of the Cafe.

And here is your P5 for early Friday, September 16th, 2005:

(1) SUFFER IN SILENCE: 17,236 5
(3) TECHNO-NOIR: 57,115 5
(5) DUCK BLOOD SOUP: 97,997 5

Some folks were wondering what kind of exposure a novel really gets by being reviewed by POD-dy Mouth. My usual response is this: does it matter? If your book gets in front of one person, it's a lot better than the zero or (-1) it was getting.

But, fair enough--here are some stats about what it is like wearing my shoes, or being me and going barefoot.

Average number of hits (unique visitors, as unique as they can really be) daily: 1,594 (roughly 50,000 monthly.)

Average number of (non-spam) emails I receive daily regarding this blog: 183.

Percentage of emails I read: 100%.

Percentage of emails I respond to: 15%.

Rest assured that my job is not easy. Imagine how long you might last if you actually had to sit and read this.

Perhaps the big news of the day is that PublishAmerica is going to accept returns! So much for the demand portion of the business model. In an email to their authors, they write: Many of our titles are already returnable. We have been running an experiment with an increasing number of our titles. It appears that once a bookstore has established a book's selling potential, and stocked the book, the store manager's decision is proven right: PublishAmerica books are competitive, high quality, reliably selling books. Therefore, as of next month, we are making all of our books returnable!

Pretty much ignore everything there except the part about returning books.

They go on . . .
Please bear with us as we must do this gradually, in order to enable our wholesaler Ingram to accurately activate the new status on roughly eleven thousand books that are currently in print, starting with the titles that are selling more than 40 copies in September.

Really what this means is who knows when your book will be returnable. I guess at $25 per paperback, they figure they can pay for some returns. But let's be real: People can't return what they do not buy, and bookstores do not (or at least try not to) buy books that have no audience. Does PublishAmerica have a sales team? I mean a vicious sales team? You cannot imagine how hard it is to sell books to bookstores, and to fight for a little space on those tables out front. I commend PublishAmerica for being the first of the POD publishers to accept returns with no charge/fee to the author; like it or not, they are the leader on this point. But the only way this will increase book sales is if someone is pounding the pavement--which, once again, will have to be the author.

Well, that's it for today. And next time I'll have more sun block on hand. Sorry about that.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

POD-dy Mouth Deal of the Week: How to get traditionally published for $35.00

Your P5 for Wednesday, September 14, 2005 (including a first: the top five books are all under 100K):

(1) SUFFER IN SILENCE: 24,798 5
(4) RATED F: 83,2615
(5) ISN'T THAT BIGAMY?: 91,5265

I get a lot of requests for perhaps the most indispensable knowledge there is: How can I get my book published traditionally?

Of course, there is no simple answer. Unless you are rich, like Kevin Trudeau, and can advertise your way into a bestseller, you'll have to do things the hard way and suffer like the rest of us: years of rejection and frustration, a few rounds with impotent agents, deals with editors who are either apathetic or move to another house just before your book is published, inferior book covers, lack of promotion, a kick-drop into the midlist and, finally, two books out of print and a teaching job at your local community college.

If you still want to bask in the un-glory, read on, dear friend. The best advice I can give is this: read the three books below. Stop what you are doing and read them, in order to save yourself time and anguish. If you can take the knowledge from these three books and throw the core of it into your writing, you will increase your chances of publication by (at least) a factor of ten. Forget the MFAs. Read these books and you will have everything you need to know.

(1) THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE (Strunk). WRITING! God knows, it has to be the tritest suggestion I can make, but it is alarmingly true to the core that so many writers have missed the fundamentals. I make a point of reading this book between every draft I write, hoping that someday I will get it all.

Take it from me--a person who has read so much bad work in print--this tool will give you the basics of all the tricky stuff. Besides, it's 100 pages. If you read it on the subway to work, you'll have it done in a few days. And keep your hi-lighter handy.

(2) 78 REASONS WHY YOUR BOOK MAY NEVER BE PUBLISHED . . . (Walsh). BUSINESS! It does not matter how wonderful your magnum opus is. If you don't get how the industry works, you will never stand a chance. The most important thing to do is write a perfect book. But typing "the end" is not where it stops. Instead, it's only the beginning. You need to understand how agents and editors work, think, and acquire. Blowing your chances with a lousy cover letter or obsessive behavior is the worst thing you can do.

I have not read any book as dead-on about the publishing industry as this one. It should be mandatory reading for all first-year English majors. And it's 200 pages. Eat your lunch out on the terrace and get through this one on a week. You'll need the hi-lighter again.

(3) THE FIRST FIVE PAGES (Lukeman). WRITING AND BUSINESS! Uber-agent Noah Lukeman dissects the importance of the first five pages of your book over the course of this text. Grabbing the attention of the targeted agent or editor is so mandatory that all of the 200 pages here are dedicated to it, including common mistakes, oversights and writing that tries too hard. The good news is that it is as entertaining as it is informative.

Another week, read before bed.

So that's it. For 2.5 weeks and$35.00 (much less via Amazon), you can learn everything (pretty much) you would need to know to get published. It's all right there in front of you. Get the knowledge. Don't waste time poring over the instantly outdated Writer's guides on finding agents or the endless (and useless) books on how to write query letters, blah, blah, blah.

Just pay attention and do your homework. You'll pass the test every time.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

POD Contest Concluded (conclusions to be drawn)

Your (irregular) P5 for Tuesday, September 13, 2005:

(1) WAITING FOR THE WORLD TO END: 4,872 (wow!) 5
(2) SUFFER IN SILENCE: 19,221 5
(4) ISN'T THAT BIGAMY?: 177,928 5
(5) COOKIN' FOR LOVE: 192,222 6

Did you happen to submit your novel to the Xerox Aspiring Author's Contest? Did you hear back from them? No?

Then you lost.

Too bad, too. Because $5,000 could've gone a long way. And 100 free copies of your magnum opus, which, if sold at $10 apiece (a steal!), you would have made another grand. That is more (read: much more) than a lot (read: most) small presses ever end up giving their authors for the life of a book. In fact, there are some major publishers who could claim the same (though likely would not.)

Xerox announced the winners yesterday and they are now on sale at Lulu. Only 250 books were submitted! You had a one-in-250 chance to win $5K? C'mon, man. You blew it. Unless you entered and lost. Wherein, you still blew it.

Who picked the books? Well, if you submitted your novel and lost, here is the bad news: "Esteemed book critics Maureen Corrigan of National Public Radio and Emily Chenoweth of Publishers Weekly selected [the winner] from more than 250 entries from across the country." These weren't some hack executive types. These were real people who read/review books for a living.

Of course, I have not read them, either--so no POD-dy Mouthed endorsement of said books as of yet. But rest assured I am way curious--and we'll see if one or more of them makes it in the running for the ever-prestigious Needle Awards.

Monday, September 12, 2005

STUCK OUTSIDE OF PHOENIX by Arthur Edwards (iUniverse)

I wish I could tell you the first time I ever heard of Arthur Edwards was when he submitted his novel to me for review, but I can't. It turns out he was the bass player for The Refreshments, who produced two CDs with Mercury Records back in the 1990's--a band that wrote a song called Banditos which was so infectious I actually drove a former boyfriend mad by my repetitive play of said song. The Refreshments were sort of a mix of The Replacements, Gin Blossoms and Los Lonely Boys.

But I don't review music.

As it turns out, Mr. Edwards can pen a fine novel, too. Two CDs and an MFA later, he has written STUCK OUTSIDE OF PHOENIX, a genuine story about a stalled trek from Phoenix to Seattle just as the Grunge movement is taking hold.

The story is about (unlike, perhaps, the author's real life) the dreams/longings/desires of a would-be rock star, and all of the angst the Gen X rockers had at that time. Edwards nails the moment and the writing is dead-on. Hard to believe, but here we are fifteen years later, with Kurt Cobain having slipped from edgy tragic-rocker to classic-rock icon. And STUCK OUTSIDE OF PHOENIX has captured that time and tells a story highly worth reading--a necessary text as the Gen Xers move to middle age, and now that Grunge has faded out as surely as psychedelia.

The book serves as a technical text while it entertains. Along the journey, you'll be tutored in guitars and amplifiers, get a little rock history (even more for you youngsters), and get a genuine glimpse into the world of stagnant rock bands.

Grab it for $11.95 over at Amazon. It's a cool little diddy. Rock out, people!