The Road. Indeed. It is a road, a journey, a trek through hell, but is both more and less than that. Less than that meaning: Cormac McCarthy presents bleak as no other writer can. While I was reading it, several times I thought that I’ll never again believe a writer who uses the word “hopeless” to describe the plight of their character. In The Road, there is nothing but hopelessness. Almost. Which leads to where I struggled with this novel.
The Damnation of Theron Ware, by Harold Frederic, is considered one of the classic novels of American literature. Published in 1896, it is a realistic portrayal of a Methodist pastor (Theron Ware) in upstate New York. Of note, the novel was also published with the title Illumination, which in some ways is a more accurate (if less dramatic) depiction of Ware’s travails. In modern terms, it is the story of a man in mid-life crisis, who makes some bad decisions when he finds himself in a new environment. But just as the proof is in the pudding, the tale is in the telling…
One of my goals this year was to read more indie/self-published novels. Part of my motivation was to study them to help me learn how to better write a book. My own novel is progressing, and I do read about the craft and some classic works of fiction. But sometimes it is good to look at the not so good to better understand what does and does not work. So far I’ve read seven novels and novellas. That is not a huge sample size, but it is big enough that I wanted to provide some summary thoughts. And these books are not randomly selected from Amazon. Let me explain….
No, I’m not selling thousands of books a day. And, no, this is not a huge category. But it is still pretty exciting.
In the US, my book has made it to #6 and #9 in two different categories. And it has made it to #2 in Canada and #9 in Brazil. I’ve also made it to #11 on a list in Australia, and it has cracked the top 100 of several more lists. All that is exciting, but a #1 spot is special and not something I’ll ever forget.
Thank you to everyone who bought a copy. 🙂
There is no understating how important it is to get reviews to help ramp sales of your new book. And I’ve previously written about how to get great reviews from some of Amazon’s top reviewers. But I’ve just discovered this: There is a group on Goodreads that is helping authors get thoughtful reviews posted to three sites (Goodreads, Amazon US and Amazon UK) from readers they don’t know. It’s a great and simple system. How much does it cost? No money involved. You just have to pay it forward and review a book from someone else. And there is no limit; you can get as many reviews as you can give.
I believe we live in a universe governed by laws of causes and effects even though we don’t yet fully understand all the causes and all the effects. When it comes to art, in particular, it is immensely difficult to know what cause will result in which effect. So it is tremendously difficult in the realm of words to know which sentence, which metaphor, which plot device will resonate with a majority of your targeted genre’s readers and turn a bunch of words into a great story. Though we don’t know these things with precision, I do believe that there are quantifiable causes and effects in play.
Wired for Story is Lisa Cron’s assertion that we do in fact have (some) science in the realm of writing that enables us to understand the causes and effects of good storytelling.
Apocalypse Now is one of the “best” movies ever made, in my opinion (acknowledging that “best” is in the eye of the beholder, though there are a lot of people that think this). More than that, it is a brilliantly told story, albeit the storytelling is via a movie. Of course, it is a retelling of Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. In case you have missed it, the story is about the descent of one man into insanity to confront another who has already descended to that place. Who knew there is an exceptionally thoughtful review of it on YouTube?
I’ve not posted much recently. I have been heads down writing and reading to improve my craft. One of the books I’ve read is Stephen King’s On Writing. As a maturing writer, I’m attentive to writing, but also writers. I have long avoided this book because I really do not care for King’s writing. And to be honest, after having read this, I still don’t care for his novel writing.
I greatly value good writing, and I will always consider myself an “aspiring” writer no matter how many books I eventually publish. So far I’ve published one novel. From this experience, I’ve gained insight into book marketing and promoting that I am happy to share. Most importantly, I better understand that there are specific tactics and techniques that can help me — and you — ramp your sales faster.
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