It took me a long time to figure out that some kinds of responsiveness to my work came from a doubt of my sincerity. And I was really shocked. Some people thought my work was just something I'd presented for communication with me and not authentic fiction. After all, lots of people take up "writing" for a while in their lives, as a time-filler, or a therapy, or a distraction from something else like the approach of midlife. I wasn't different from that.
And, moreover, they thought they knew what my little "writing" behavior was about. I was amazed to discover that people actually viewed it as not the real deal. At times, I even detected some impatience, won't you talk about something real already? We all know this is unimportant. What are you really up to?
All of this is the most arrant nonsense I've ever heard. Writing is not a cover for me. It IS who I am. It is the most important thing about me and if you're looking for something else that's the real deal about me, you'll never find it. It's not a way to communicate with me, a means to a goal of yours. Just because you didn’t warm to a couple of moments or ideas in a book or two doesn’t mean I am not a writer. The correct question is “What are you getting at?” Not “Why are you so insincere?” And if you think some things I write are boring, that doesn’t matter at all. One weaker book does not discredit an author. Just look at all the books out there, classics included, and you’ll know that’s true.
Interest in my storytelling is your reason for being here if you have approached me online. A belief we can have a different conversation is more imaginative than anything I've ever written and I write fiction.
If you want to know "what I'm really up to," think about that.
And there will be more updates.
It’s hard to be comfortable with yourself. But it doesn’t matter at all what other people think about you. Except, ironically, they like you a lot more when you ARE yourself. If a person is fake all the time, they are boring (because they never talk about what they’re interested in) and weak (to care so much for the opinion of others.) So I exhaustively “rewrote” each story to remove things I only included out of insecurity—in short, returned it to its original form. There was barely a story that wasn’t touched by the extraneous-material-syndrome—some just a paragraph, others an entire plot or subplot.
And there will be more updates.
Every author wants to entertain. That’s why we write. What drives us is the dream of developing characters that people react to. We want our stories to be exciting, to be interactive places where people become passionate about what we’ve created.
In the early years of my publishing I became desperate to get attention. I noticed people were not highly motivated to respond to my work and I started to include material that was extraneous to the stories. It had nothing to do with the tales I was telling. But this material, I thought correctly, would interest the people I was trying to impress with my books. And it DID. They were interested by that material.
But it was at the cost of the stories and of my self-esteem. Not only did these inclusions detract from the books, they sometimes backfired and caused negative reactions from readers. I was quite hurt because, in all honesty, I’d only included these elements to interest the readers. And they WERE interested—without that negative reaction, they had little response to the book at all. “How ungrateful!” I thought. Even when reactions were less negative, I didn’t see any engagement unless I put in irrelevant material.
Trying to change something to get people’s attention is just a way of trying to fit in. If people will only notice you when you change yourself, those aren’t people you should care about. Every author deserves the kind of fans they should really care about—the fans who care about them. In the course of the last 18 months I’ve revised every one of my stories to remove this extraneous material.
These changes aren’t to alter or hide what was in the books, but instead to reveal the true story. In another post I’ll detail exactly what changes were made. In the meantime—just be yourself. You’re a lot better at it than you think.
And here will be more updates.
Let’s face it. Kindle free ebook promotions are questionable. Yes, they can be great—really great—for luring unknown people in to at least considering your book. But the temptation to view them as review copies should be ignored. Reviews are often spammy and negative when they do occur, and usually they don’t because a lot of people download free books and never get around to reading them. I’ve done it plenty of times myself. I want to know if the book might be for me and free gives the feeling I can take a chance on it. But at least ¾ of the time I realize it’s not for me and I don’t’ finish it. AKA, don’t review it.
When other readers have the same approach—and when hordes and hordes and hordes of authors take the route of offering free books—free becomes oversaturated and useless. Putting down money for a possibility of getting downloads won’t bring back anything unless it generates READERS. And free promos don’t actually do that for most books. Plus, the exclusivity requirement for using Amazon’s free programs means being locked down away from other potential markets. For this reason, I don’t rely on free downloads as much as I used to, even as a gauge of reader interest. (More downloads = more interest, right?) But there’s one problem. Most of the freebies even from big publishers are from authors who are secondary or soon disappear. If people aren’t willing to pay for your book, maybe you should rethink the book instead of caving and offering it for free.
So now I only use freebies on Amazon limitedly and only for one KDP Select enrollment cycle, if I do them at all. After that, I do $0.99 deals. I don’t want to make readers lazy and think they can just get anything for free if they hold out long enough.
And there will be more updates.
I live surrounded by cultivated fields that rapidly give way to wild flowers, wild plants, and wild life. I get most of my ideas while drifting innocuously around my house and some of those ideas get into print.