Rod Raglin

This blog will touch on the experiences I have as a writer (not to be mistaken for my experience as a writer, i.e. how many books I've written, etc); the pleasure and the pain, the joy and the grief, the satisfaction and the frustration, the magic and the reality - have I left anything out, oh yeah, the rejection, rejection and more rejection,  the humiliation and the embarrassment, the jealousy and the resentment - that pretty much covers it, except for why I do it which perhaps I'll realize along the way. Are you totally confused? Good, let's begin.

The last chance to get my books free - really

The 9th annual Smashwords Summer/Winter Sale is drawing to an end with thousands of E-books, including mine, offered free or at deep discounts through the month of July, 2017.

 

You might want to take advantage of this offer and download some of my books free since I am resolved not to give anymore of my work away with the exception to my ADVANCE READING TEAM.

 

Why is that, you might ask? And why now?

 

There is a school of thought among book marketeers (no, it's not a typo since I consider them in the same category as racketeers) that giving away your work will create readers who will write reviews that will generate book sales.

 

It's a lie.

 

Take for example this Smashwords promotion. A total of thirty-seven copies of the five books I offered free were downloaded. My other five titles were offered for fifty-percent off. Zero were downloaded. The vast majority of the two hundred and five books that have been downloaded from Smashwords over the past five years have been free. They've generated zero reviews.

 

There are two things about offering your work free to readers:

 

- there's no downside. The reader has invested nothing, so if he doesn't read it he's lost nothing.

 

- free is equated to no value. The reader thinks the work is garbage (and he might be right) and that's why it's free.

 

I think my work has value, but I'd still might consider offering it free during the launch if I thought it would generate future sales. It doesn't so there's no point in continuing to demean it.

 

The exception might be the first book in the Mattie Saunders Series I'm writing featuring an independent young woman with a social conscience and a bad attitude, who loves animals, but not so much people. There's some good evidence that offering the first book in a series free encourages readers to buy the rest of the series. I'll let you know once I have a few more books in the series written and published.

 

Members of my Advance Reading Team will continue to get free and discounted books as well as an opportunity to read new work before it's released to the public. You can become a member by clicking this link

 

http://eepurl.com/cj5wjj

 

No spam, no tips to live by, no click bait,

 

Here's a list and the link to my books, in e-book format, available free or deeply

discounted for two more days during Smashwords sale.

 

Loving the Terrorist - Free https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/579221

 

The Rocker and Bird Girl - Free https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/727720

 

The LOCAL RAG - Free https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/671782

 

End of the Rope - Free https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/655643

 

Harry's Truth - Free https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/649522

 

Saving Spirit Bear - 50% OFF https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/575296

 

Mad Maggie and the Mystery of the Ancients - 50% OFF https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/700967

 

FOREST - Love, Loss, Legend- 50% OFF https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/515038

 

Abandoned Dreams - 50% OFF https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/573742

 

The BIG PICTURE- A Camera, A Young Woman, An Uncompromising Ethic - 50% OFF https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/515877

 

Stay calm, be brave, watch for the signs.

 

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East Van Saturday Night - submissions, round two

 

East Van Saturday - four short stories and a novella, has just been sent out to three more Canadian publishers.

 

The process began in November of last year when I decided that self-publishing another work (currently I've self-published eight novels and two plays) wasn't going to achieve what I wanted.

 

What do I want?

Critical, serious consideration for my writing and you're not likely going to receive that as an self-published author.

 

Why? Because it's now dead easy to self-publish and guess what, everybody's doing it. In 2015 alone, 625,327 ISBN numbers were issued for individual indie books.

 

In the past six months I've submitted to five publishers. If you think sending out submissions is easy, well, I guess it depends on what you're comparing it to.

 

Consider:

- publishers are obsessively specific about how your manuscript should be presented: what font style, what type size, margin widths, headers, etc.

- part of the submission package is to explain why you think your work is a good fit for them,

- you must provide details on how you're prepared to market your book,

- in most cases they will not accept simultaneous or multiple submissions,

- they won't let you know they received your submission,

- you are under no circumstances allowed to contact them in any way,

- they won't let you know if they reject your work, they'll just shred it, using "a secure process".

 

Okay, so it's not that difficult, it's just extremely annoying to have to deal with their arrogance - and that's without ever having the opportunity to speak with any of them.

 

To make it even more galling, in 2014-15 these guys (and gals) received $30 million dollars in Canadian government subsidies - that's my tax money.

 

And what exactly do they do for this money now that all the services: editing, cover design, production, marketing and distribution can be done by the author or purchased from experts relatively inexpensively?

 

One thing.

 

They're the gatekeepers to literary acceptance. If you're an indie author you're a joke, if your traditionally published you're accepted by the literati.

 

Not that I'll make any more money. Emerging authors are lucky to receive a fifteen percent royalty on traditionally published books.

So here we go again.

 

East Van Saturday Night - four short stories and a novella, are to some degree autobiographical and impart to the reader why you can take the boy out of East Van, but you'll never take East Van out of the boy.


Though the stories are all set in East Vancouver (with the exception of Hitchhike, which is a cross Canada misadventure during the "summer of love"), the themes have universal appeal and the music, the fashions and the culture are distinctly familiar to "boomers".

 

Stay calm, be brave, watch for the signs.

 

Amazon Author Page   https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B003DS6LEU

 

 

Survey results on self-publishing self-evident, self-serving

I've just completed comparing the results of three survey's recently sent to me regarding self-publishing and self-published authors to see what the take away is (if there is any).

 

All three of these surveys were undertaken by companies that are, in the most part, dependent on authors like me who use their platform or services to self-publish their writing.

 

The survey sample is skewed since the respondents are, in some form or another, clients of these three enterprises. They either publish and distribute their e-books with Smashwords, advertise their e-books on one of WrittenWord Media's four sites, or possibly are doing all the above as well as contracting editorial, graphic design and marketing services from BookBaby.

 

The findings provided here are likely their optimistic interpretations.

 

Experience counts (maybe): Successful authors (in terms of book sales) have more writing experience. They spend more time writing and subsequently have more books available in their catalogue. They also contract more professional services, particularly editors and cover designers.

 

This, of course doesn't answer the question of how they became successful? Did they achieve success because of all these things (experience, time, hiring professionals), or once they achieved some success were the the able to spend the time, develop the catalogue and hire the professionals?

 

What to write. Fiction sells better than non-fiction and romance (especially contemporary, paranormal and erotica) sells far better than any other genre or literary writing. Under served markets include the romantic subgenres New Adult, Contemporary and YA.

 

How long should your book be? So much for all those pundits who claim novellas are all the rage because they can be read in one sitting or during a commute. Best sellers, again according to Smashwords, average ninety-two thousand words.

 

Book Marketing. Offering your e-book for free draws thirty-three times more then priced titles, but what's the upside to offering your books free?

 

Okay, so money doesn't matter to you, it's about making that reader connection, about putting forth your view of the world. Does offering your work at no charge achieve that? How many free books actually get read?

 

Not very many has been my experience both as a writer and a reader.

 

I've had hundreds of my books downloaded free and it's resulted in an insignificant number of reviews. On the other hand my ibook library is filled with books I've downloaded free and have yet to read.

 

See what I'm getting at. There's no downside to clicking and getting a book free.

 

This might explain why over sixty-one percent of published authors have asked friends or family members to review their books.

 

However, if you're writing a series, and series are more than likely going to generate best sellers, than offering the first book free is a good marketing ploy.

 

Speaking of FREE E-BOOKS. I'm participating in Smashwords Summer Sale and until July 31, 2017 my entire catalogue, eight novels and two plays are either FREE or 50% OFF. Go to https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/raglin

 

What's the right price for an e-book? So if you opt not to offer your books free how much should you charge? Interestingly, e-books priced at $3.99 and $4.99 did better than those priced less - or more, at least on Smashwords.

 

In the end it was a lot of reading for very little worthwhile information, most of which was self-evident if you really think about it.

 

Here's how the sage folks at WrittenWord Media summed up the findings from their survey.

 

Indie publishing is a viable path to success. Many indie authors signed traditional publishing deals on the strength of their self-published books and many traditionally published authors are becoming indie authors because of more control and higher royalties. Hybrid publishing gives you the benefit of both paths.

 

This rosy prediction in light of the fact that 727,125 ISBNs were assigned to self-published titles in 2015, representing 625,327 individual indie books*.

 

Well, really, what did you expect them to say?

 

These surveys would have been more credible if they'd had similar terms of reference. WrittenWord Media considers a "successful author" as someone who makes $100,000 or more in a single year from book sales. Book sales of $500 or less categorizes you as an "emerging author".

 

At BookBaby you're a successful author if you've earned $5,000 or more annually from book sales. Those who earned less than $100 were labeled "lower earning authors".

 

Huh?

 

We definitely aren't comparing apples to apples here. How can one company consider a successful indie author as earning $5000 a year while another has it pegged at $100,000?

 

But it gets even weirder. Of the forty-three hundred authors who completed the BookBaby survey a little less than five percent fell into the category of the "high achieving group" earning $5000 or more.

 

If only about two hundred BookBaby authors earn $5000 or more how many WrittenWord Media authors earn over a hundred grand?

 

Or put another way, how can twenty successful BookBaby authors only be equal to one WrittenWord Media successful author?

 

See what I mean? It's like they're comparing different species.

 

The take away? Only that I now know how to categorize myself. I'm a "lower earning emerging author".

 

And on that we all agree.

 

Stay calm. Be brave. Watch for the signs

 

*According to Bowker, the exclusive U.S. agent for issuing International Standard Book Numbers.

 

Smashwords   http://smashwords.com

BookBaby   https://www.bookbaby.com

WrittenWord Media   https://www.writtenwordmedia.com

 

My Amazon Author Page   https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B003DS6LEU

 

Goods insights into two important aspects of writing fiction.

Characters & Viewpoint (Elements of Fiction Writing) - Orson Scott Card

There's nothing new in books about writing fiction, only on how they're presented.

 

Some are written by academics and you need to be one to understand them. Others are written by authors who use them as a means of self-aggrandizement constantly quoting examples from their own work. These may not necessarily be good examples of what they're trying to demonstrate, but they're not about to let an opportunity to promote their work slip by.

 

In Characters and Viewpoint, author Orson Scott Card uses straight forward prose and not a lot of examples from his own work and gives good insight into these two important aspects of writing fiction.

 

This is a solid book about what is stated in the title.

Crying for the Moon - a dreary, tawdry series of events lacking in motivation

Crying for the Moon: A Novel - Mary Walsh

 

 

Maureen comes from a working class family in St John's, Newfoundland. She's a senior in a Catholic parochial high school.

 

Even though she can't sing she fakes her way into the school choir so she can travel as part of the group to Montreal and perform at Expo '67, the world's fair taking place there in 1967.

 

As soon as she arrives, her and a girlfriend go AWOL and hit the Montreal nightlife.

 

 

Before you can say " G'wan with cha" she gets drunk and wakes up in a strange hotel room having lost her virginity as well as her girlfriend.


Evidently not big deal.

 

She goes back to the hotel, don't know that she ever performs at Expo, but the next night is out looking for her girlfriend in the same bars and has sex with another, more or less anonymous guy all the while not enjoying it one bit, which makes this reader wonder why she does it?

 

Not wanting to hang around with someone she hardly knows she ends up at yet another bar, gets dead drunk and has sex with an "old man".

 

Back home and back at Catholic school in St. John's she throws up on a nun's habit and is announced pregnant and kicked out of school.

 

Her mother, "the Sarge" tells her she isn't going to sit around so she gets a part time job in a discount store where all the other employees hate her.

 

There's more, but none of it has any motivation, there's little character development - it is just one grim situation after another.

 

Why would a "good" girl attending a Catholic school, suddenly go on a sex and drinking binge just because she's away from home?

 

I never found out because I abandoned Crying for the Moon after three chapters. Blame it on a really unsympathetic character and an inability to suspend disbelief.

 

This is a good example of a "celebrity book". The publisher knows the author's fame in other endeavours, in this case author Mary Walsh being somewhat of an comic icon in Canada, will sell enough books to make a profit.

 

Maybe stick to comedy, Mary, or was this book supposed to be a joke and I just didn't get it?

Experiments in Self-Publishing with The Rocker and the Bird Girl

The Rocker and the Bird Girl (RBG) is a novella I wrote on Inkitt, more as an experiment than a serious piece of writing. I wanted to see if I wrote something YA oriented if it would generate for me any of the response this site boasts about. I'd have been happy with comments and criticism, but wouldn't have turned down a publishing deal.

 

Here's the blurb for the story.

 

If someone called Mattie a bird brain she'd take it as a compliment. She loves birds, has spent her entire twenty years surrounded by them and believes they are more intelligent, loving and loyal than, well, most anything else in this world.

 

Mattie's grandfather spent all his retirement, time and funds, establishing a sanctuary for homeless, imported, exotic birds. Now granddad was gone and so was the money to support the sanctuary. In her desperate search for funding to keep the refuge open

 

Mattie had read that lead guitarist and lyricist Bodine, of the notorious rock band, Seditious, owned a Macaw as a pet. The guy was obviously fabulously wealthy. Maybe he'd like to spend some of that money saving these beautiful, precious creatures instead of on drugs and expensive toys?

 

He wasn't answering her emails so she guessed she'd have to try to get his attention at the Seditious concert that was coming to town. She'd never been to a rock concert and wasn't looking forward to it, but desperate times called for desperate measures.

 

***

Sex, drugs and rock 'n roll have taken their toll on Bodine, lead guitarist and songwriter for Seditious, the chart topping, outrageous rock band. He's just playing the part until something better comes along. The problem is what's better than being a rich and famous rock idol? Certainly not helping some over zealous young woman save exotic birds, even if his best friend is a Blue and Gold Macaw.

 

I'd knock off a chapter about once every three days and upload it to the site then promote it on Twitter and Facebook. I kind of got caught up with the characters and the plot and before I knew it they were having their way with me.

 

Once completed, it's a novella, only 20,000 words, I left it up for awhile but had become too attached to it to let it languish among all the dreck. Besides after four months it had received no comments or criticisms and accumulated only about two hundred and fifty reads and eleven downloads. I'm not sure what that means in terms of success on Inkitt, but it was obvious to me nothing was happening.

 

And so, more or less to keep my hand in, and as an offering to my ART members (Advance Reading Team) I've self-published it and even have some ideas about developing it into a series. It was fun, easy to write and I got to addressed some issues. You can become an ART member and receive a free copy of The Rocker and the Bird Girl by clicking this link http://eepurl.com/cj5wjj

 

I'm seriously considering turning RBG into a series. Apparently, novellas are very popular (easily read on your cell phone during a commute), and the characters and story ideas are still resonating with me.

 

All the while I'm still waiting for a traditional publisher to pickup East Van Saturday Night - four short stories and a novella. So far not a peep, one way or another.

 

When it came to self-publishing the e-book edition of RBG I went with Smashwords and Kindle Direct (Amazon) and this time added Draft2Digital (D2D), more so I could pass along the experience to you and the participants of my workshops and creative writing circles since D2D has limited distribution which is more than duplicated by the coverage Smashwords offers.

 

If you think making it even easier to self-publish is a good thing (I'm not sure it is) than you'll love Draft2Digital (D2D). I found uploading my manuscript along with the pertinent details extremely user friendly. They'll even provide front and back matter for your e-book from the information you provide.

 

However, after uploading RBG I received an error message via email from D2D. My book was blocked from being distributed because I inadvertently hit the public domain button when uploading my file. I followed the instructions, went back and made the correction - nothing changed. My book was still blocked.

 

I sent an email message explaining my dilemma on June 1. Two days later after receiving no response I tried to de-list my book. It wouldn't go away. I then decided to reload my book making sure to not hit the public domain button and bingo it went through and got distributed.

 

Now two listings for The Rocker and the Bird Girl appear on my D2D dashboard - one blocked and one published. Compare this to Amazon's Create Space and Kindle Direct who always resolve my issues within twenty-four hours.

 

Three things I didn't bother with in this launch were Kindle Select, Kindle Scout, and Smashwords Pre-order. These highly touted services have generated nothing whatsoever in response for me.

 

My email list continues generate response and I'm getting quite creative with MailChimp about using free copies to increase the membership, like using Instafreebie's one month free introductory offer. Make sure you click the option to have Instafreebie members "opt in" by giving up their email address for a free book.

 

Stay calm, be brave, watch for the signs.

 

30

 

 

Links to websites referenced in this blog.

Link to become an ART member http://eepurl.com/cj5wjj

Draft2Digital http://draft2digital.com/

Inkitt http://inkitt.com/

Instafreebie https://www.instafreebie.com/

Mail Chimp https://mailchimp.com/

Smashwords http://smashwords.com/

Kindle Direct https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/

Create Space http://createspace.com/

 

Find reviews, blurbs and buy links to my seven novels and two plays at http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B003DS6LEU

 

Facebook for writing news, my experience as a writer as well as promotions, contests, giveaways and discounts regarding his books

https://www.facebook.com/Rod-Raglin-337865049886964/

 

Video book reviews of self-published authors now at Not Your Family, Not Your Friend Video Book Reviews:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCH45n8K4BVmT248LBTpfARQ

 

Cover Art of books by self-published authors at

https://www.pinterest.com/rod_raglin/rod-raglins-reviews-cover-art/

 

More of my original photographs can be viewed, purchased, and shipped to you as GREETING CARDS; matted, laminated, mounted, framed, or canvas PRINTS; and POSTERS. Go to: http://www.redbubble.com/people/rodraglin

 

View my flickr photostream at https://www.flickr.com/photos/78791029@N04/

 

Or, My YouTube channel if you prefer photo videos accompanied by classical music https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsQVBxJZ7eXkvZmxCm2wRYA

 

 

Lack of craft and editing extinguishes the potential in "Ignite"

 

In a dystopian future with civilization all but destroyed, Emperor Donovan, a wicked, evil, despot rules an area that includes London Ruins. His DRT (?) agents control the impoverished subjects with ruthless violence and the help of digital implants embedded in each person at birth (?) that identifies who they are and where they are.

 

Jacks is a homeless, pickpocket in her early teens. Her parents, branded as rebels, were murdered before her eyes when she was just a child. Her hatred for the Emperor and his agents is only slightly less than her will to survive.

 

When she is asked to see what has happened to a friend she stumbles on a roundup of subjects by DRT agents looking for rebels. To save them from execution she creates a distraction only to find she's not the only one on a rescue mission.

 

Members of The Flames, an underground movement fighting against the tyranny of the Empire, are there as well and their members and Jacks form an uneasy alliance.

 

Gradually Jacks becomes accepted by The Flames, which consists of only five members all in their teens. However, the group's leader, Zira, feels uneasy about the new recruit.

 

As the rebel group fights to save innocents as well as themselves from the malevolent Emperor Donovan and his henchmen, Zira's apprehension comes to the fore as she is forced to reveal secrets of her own that involve Jacks.

 

As dystopian fiction goes Ignite is not very original but it does have potential. Unfortunately, that potential is squandered by lack of craft including amateur writing, lack of plot structure, one dimensional characterization and chapter after chapter that do little or nothing to advance the plot or develop character.

 

For example, the Emperor and his agents are without exception evil, nasty, cruel and stupid. The Flames are without exception good, nice, friendly, and exceptionally smart especially for teenagers living in a society that has collapsed.

 

They are constantly one up on the bad guys even though there are a lot more of them and they have unlimited resources including weapons.

 

Hold on, two of The Flames are from a wealthy "shiner" family. Their father was thrown into the dungeons for consorting with rebels but apparently the Emperor forgot to confiscate the family wealth and throw the wife and children into the street, so now the kids use their father's money to undermine the Empire.

 

If you think that's dumb, the DRT agents of the Empire are so stupid they don't even think to have paid or coerced informants in the general population considering everyone is starving and they'd likely sell their mother not to mention The Flames, for a meal.

But no they wouldn't because in Rogland's dystopian future everyone poor is honest, noble and loyal to The Flames, starving or otherwise.

 

In addition to attaining more writing (and reading) experience what author Danielle Rogland desperately needs is a good editor. Someone who can tell her that using adverbs to describe the delivery of almost every sentence of dialogue she's written is the mark of an amateur. If your dialogue needs to be described it likely is weak and needs to be rewritten using a stronger verb.

 

A good editor would cut back on the tedious descriptions of setting suggesting she leave it to the readers imagination. Most importantly, her editor would tell her to delete or significantly cut the chapters that are basically redundant chit chat and do little or nothing to advance the plot or develop character.

 

In the end, Ignite would be tight, entertaining and about two-thirds as long as it is now with all the superfluity eliminated.

 

I received this e-book free from Inkitt in return for an honest review.

 

Inkitt says its  mission is "to ensure fair publishing and objectivity for authors. Who are we or any editor in the world to judge whether your book is worth publishing? We don’t think that we or any so-called “expert” is in a position to judge your work. You write your book for your readers, and the most important factor is whether your readers like it or not. That is what we measure at Inkitt."

 

And how do they do this?

 

"We built artificially intelligent algorithms that have the ability to analyze reading pattern data and engagement levels. This allows us to make objective and data-driven decisions regarding a novel's potential to become a bestseller. "

 

Apparently none of the above, as copied from Inkitt's site, has anything to do with good writing, but hey, who am I to argue with artificially intelligent algorithms, or how many people you can persuade to click on your online book and add it to their "reading list".

 

All the same, and despite being approved by artificially intelligent algorithms, I'm giving Ignite two stars.

 

 

 

 

Source: http://www.rodraglin.com

Technology, giveaways, workshops - all in the name of book sales

Authors.me - publishing and writing technology that fails to deliver

Back in November I wrote a blog entitled, Authors.me "matches manuscripts to non-existent pages, vanity press when I discovered that the platform that claims to "...connects writers, agents and publishers to find manuscripts, manage submissions and get books published" had connected one of my uploaded books to publishing sites that, among other inconsistencies, didn't even exist or wanted me to pay them to publish my book. In fact, sixty percent of Author.me "matches" didn't actually match.

 

Further to that, today I received an email from one of the sites that actually did "match", Black Rose Writing, saying they "were going to pass on Loving the Terrorist (my novel) at present", however if I decided to self-publish to consider their imprint, Bookend Design "where (you) would work directly with the Black Rose Writing Design Team."

 

I'm wondering how much business Black Rose Writing gets from submissions by authors hoping for a traditional publishing contract and then redirecting them to their self-publishing imprint, Bookend Design?

 

Is there no end to the scams in this industry? And what about Authors.me vetting these so-called publishers for their site?

 

Technology to analyze manuscripts and provide actionable insights.

The latest product from Authors.me is Intelligent Editorial Analysis, "technology to analyze manuscripts and provide actionable insights."

 

They offered me the opportunity to test drive this product and so I uploaded the manuscript of my novel The Big Picture, A Camera, A Young Woman, An Uncompromising Ethic.

 

On a scale of 1 to 100, where a 100 most resembles a commercially viable book, my manuscript scored 85.48.

 

My strengths included "an elevated level of craft" because of my "measured use of adjectives like "very" " as well as "going easy on the exclamation marks". Weaknesses were inconsistent spelling (they don't say what), explicit language (curse words) and the use of clichés.

 

This last one I'd challenge but I'll give them the benefit of the doubt and I don't plan to get bent out of shape over it since it's all grist for the mill.

If you want to try this out it will now cost you $49. Go to

https://app.authors.me/#partner/booklife-authors

 

InstaFreebie bolsters Advance Reading Team E-mail list

I just finished a trial offer on Instafreebie. For those of you who are not familiar with this giveaway platform here's how it's described on their site:

 

InstaFreebie was created in 2014 with a mission to accelerate great stories and big ideas. As the book world’s leading platform for exclusive access to sneak peeks, advance previews, and special giveaways, we live our mission every day and give readers a chance to SEE IT FIRST™.InstaFreebie was created in 2014 with a mission to accelerate great stories and big ideas. As the book world’s leading platform for exclusive access to sneak peeks, advance previews, and special giveaways.

 

Their basic program is free but I signed up for a thirty day free trial of the "Plus" program that allowed me to add subscribers to my email list. Fourteen people received an e-book edition of one of my novels and became a member of my Advance Reading Team by opting in with their email address.

 

A monthly subscription to this program is $20. That works out to $1.43 and e-mail. Nope.

 

Here's the site address:

https://www.instafreebie.com/plans

 

Deliver an hour long workshop - sell a few books

I delivered an hour long workshop on Introduction to Memoir Writing. This was in return for an opportunity to sell my books at the event. It worked, but if you factored in my time in preparation and the actual presentation I ended up subsidizing the sales.

 

There's got to be easier ways to sell books. Any ideas?

 

Stay calm, be brave, watch for the signs.

30

 

Find reviews, blurbs and buy links to my seven novels and two plays at

http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B003DS6LEU

 

Facebook for writing news, my experience as a writer as well as promotions, contests, giveaways and discounts regarding his books

https://www.facebook.com/Rod-Raglin-337865049886964/

 

Video book reviews of books about how to write fiction as well as the work of self-published authors now at

Not Your Family, Not Your Friend Video Book Reviews:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCH45n8K4BVmT248LBTpfARQ

 

Cover Art of books by self-published authors at

https://www.pinterest.com/rod_raglin/rod-raglins-reviews-cover-art/

 

More of my original photographs can be viewed, purchased, and shipped to you as GREETING CARDS; matted, laminated, mounted, framed, or canvas PRINTS; and POSTERS. Go to: http://www.redbubble.com/people/rodraglin

 

View my flickr photostream at https://www.flickr.com/photos/78791029@N04/

 

Or, My YouTube channel if you prefer photo videos accompanied by classical music

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsQVBxJZ7eXkvZmxCm2wRYA

 

 

 

 

 

The Opening Sky doesn't reveal much, if anything.

 

If the sky opens in author Joan Thomas's novel, The Opening Sky, it doesn't reveal much. This could be a story about your neighbours and is about as interesting.

 

Aiden and Liz are a career oriented, upper middle class couple with a daughter, Sylvie, in college. Liz is the director of the non-profit Sexuality Education Resource Centre and Aiden is a therapist.

 

Their comfortable lives begin to unravel, not a lot mind you, when their daughter becomes pregnant.

 

This unwanted pregnancy is what drives the novel, though with such a tepid conflict suffice to say it never really gets out of first gear.

 

While many novels take ordinary people in less than good circumstances and have them step up and do heroic deeds, Thomas's characters do just the opposite, despite ideal circumstances and training they come up short.

 

Liz seems to define herself by her good taste in decorating, clothes, gourmet cooking, living in the right neighbourhood and holidaying in the trendy destinations. It takes all her time, energy and focus - which is why she does it.

 

Aiden is one of those people who espouse liberal ideals but does not have the guts to follow through. He subsequently feels powerless and impotent though it's by his own doing - or not doing.

 

Sylvie is an only child, naive and unrealistic in her cocoon of entitlement, who is constantly proselytizing about how people should make sacrifices to save the planet while having yet to experience life other than attending college and living in a dorm, both funded by her parents.

 

All the characters in this novel are not only unsympathetic, but insipid. Though at times the plot smolders, it never bursts into flames.

 

The only redeeming quality in this novel is Thomas's exceptional writing. Unfortunately, whereas a good story can overcome bad writing, the opposite is never true.

 

 

Introduction to Memoir Writing - workshop outline FREE

A dozen people turned up to my free workshop, Introduction to Writing Memoir.

 

I spoke for an hour - flat out. In the end there was applause and a few participants bought my books, nicely displayed on a table near the door (so they couldn't miss them).

 

A lot of participants who attend the Creative Writing Circles I facilitate are writing memoirs. A lot of them don't know where to begin, how to structure or write their stories. I thought a workshop that addressed these issues would at least get them started off right, saving them a lot of time and frustration revising.

 

They might even be grateful enough to buy a book. Some apparently were.

 

Here's the workshop outline I distributed to those who attended. You might find this information helpful if you're considering writing about an event in your life. If you do (and your feeling grateful) sign up for my Advance Reading Team and I'll send you a FREE E-BOOK edition of my latest novel The LOCAL RAG.

 

Here's the link. http://eepurl.com/cj5wjj

 

 

Introduction to Memoir Writing

Facilitator: Rod Raglin

Amazon Author Page - https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B003DS6LEU

Website: http://www.rodraglin.com

E-mail: rod_raglin@yahoo.com

 

This short program is designed to set you on the right path to writing a memoir.

 

What is a memoir?

A memoir is not the story of your life (autobiography) but rather a story of one of your life experiences. It has a distinct beginning and end.

 

How to plan your memoir

Your memoir should be structured like any good story. Before you begin writing you should decide the story's Goal, Motivation and Conflict.

Goal: What did you want?

Motivation: Why did you want it?

Conflict: What was stopping you from getting it?

 

Be specific about your Goal

It's best to be specific and not generalize - I wanted to be happy is a generalization. I wanted out of the marriage I was in with an alcoholic so I could be happy is specific. Rather than wanting a good job which is a generalization; write I wanted to be a neuro-surgeon.

 

Motivation

Dig deep to discover why you wanted what you wanted. You might think you wanted to start your own business because you hoped to make a lot of money but was there more - the prestige, the power, the independence?

 

Conflict

These are the challenges that are preventing you from attaining your goal. Here again dig deep. What was stopping you from writing that novel - the responsibility of a family, lack of time - or fear of failure?

 

Where to start

Start with the inciting incident. The moment you decided things were going to change, or the moment something happened that changed the status quo.

Don't start with backstory - your personal history - fill that in as the story unfolds and only what is necessary for the reader to understand your motivation. Always make it minimal and relevant to this memoir.

 

Story structure

The story arc - begins with the inciting incident and the tension rises as you are confronted with one obstacle (conflict) after another that you have to overcome to achieve your goal. The highest point of the story arc is the climax - the final battle that will resolve whether or not you achieve your goal.

 

Then denouement - wrap up loose ends and finish.

 

Some tips about writing

Always ask Why and How - and answer these questions honestly

 

Evoke emotion - how did you feel about the person, the event, the award, the death? Reading is an emotional experience and if you don't tell the reader how you felt about the events you're writing about your memoir will be uninspiring and not entertaining. Remember the paradox of writing - the more personal you write, the more universal the appeal.

 

Show don't tell

You want your reader to feel like they're actually experiencing the event not being told what happened. One of the best way to do this is to use lots of dialogue. Dialogue is action and action is showing not telling. It doesn't matter if you don't remember exactly what was said - this is your story.

 

Consider the writing technique Scene/Sequel.

Write an action scene and then a sequel reflecting on the action.

 

Use specifics - don't generalize

 

Revision

Once you've written your memoir you need to put it away until it's out of your system. You need to get perspective on it. That could take anywhere from a minimum of three months to? Then take it out and re-read and revise. You'll likely have lots of revisions.

 

Once you've done the re-write, you need to find as many "objective" people as possible to read, proof and comment on it. Try to find people who can be honest and do not have a conflict of interest.

 

Consider joining a local writing group or register on an online critique site. Then revise taking their comments and corrections into consideration.

 

 

Once you've done all the revising you can decide to self publish on Amazon - free with a 70-30% royalty split or begin the submission process to publishers.

 

Books that are helpful:

The Writer's Process, Getting Your Brain in Gear by Anne Janzer 

Writing MEMOIR, The Practical Guide to Writing and Publishing the Story of Your Life,

by Jerry Payne

 

Talking to a handful of people in the basement of the library

So today I participated in my first author reading.

 

In this group of authors there were six readers including myself. There were two professionals who had traditionally published non-fiction books, three self-published authors including myself, and a young man who performed a slam poem and had a chap book of his work for sale.

 

There was maybe twenty people in the audience mostly (entirely?) made of friends of the authors. I didn't invite any of my friends and none came.

 

I read second. Ten minutes for reading, five for questions.

 

I learned two things.

 

 

- I presented as well or better than any of the other five authors.

 

- You can get your book published by a well respected, traditional publisher and have it short listed for literary awards and you're still talking to a handful of people in the basement of a library.

 

Considering this was my first experience giving a public reading and then sitting behind a table talking to people about my books, I'd say it was pretty much what I expected, and I actually sold some books.

 

If this is the road to becoming a successful author it appears to be a very long and extremely boring journey. It's hard to believe that any time soon I'll be sitting in a fancy ballroom, among the literary and publishing elite about to accept the $50,000 Giller Prize on national television.

 

Never have so many (authors) given so much (hours of toil on their books) for so little (the applause and passing interest of two dozen people).

 

And yet we continue to storm the beaches.

 

 

 

 

New Voices - the beginning of a new direction

Further to the new direction in my writing career.

 

Okay, so you’re saying my writing career had no direction before so how can I have a new one?

 

Well, maybe having no direction is a direction.

 

Too Zen for you?

 

How about: If you write a book and nobody reads it have you really written a book? That one’s been driving me crazy since, well, since I wrote a book and nobody read it.

 

Before you? me? we? all of us? get too hung up (do people still say that?) on these esoteric ruminations let me continue.

 

All of my book marketing has been so far done online. I blog, I Tweet, I post on my Facebook page, I send out promotional newsletters to my Advance Reading Team, I review books, I’ve even gone so far as to join and contribute to online reading/writing groups.

 

And it’s got me_______. (You fill in the blank)

 

This direction(?) has been macro – my books are available through Amazon, Apple, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, Library Direct, OverDrive and a few more in Canada, United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Brazil, Mexico, Australia, Japan and India. They’re available digitally as epub, mobi, pdf, online reader and more, suitable to most reading devices including your cellphone as well as in paperback in the UK, USA and Canada.

 

My new direction will be micro – I’ll sell actual books to real people face to face.

 

My first experience with this will be on March 27, 2017 at the Vancouver Public Library where I’ll be reading my work along with five other writers in their “New Voices” series. (How after seven years, seven novels and two plays I can be considered a “new voice” says something – what I’m not sure.)

 

The event is from 7 to 8:30 pm and our host will even provide a table for us to display and sell our books. I don’t know about the rest of the participants, but I’m taking advantage of the table and might even break off from my reading prematurely if I see someone in the audience interested in the merchandise.

 

Having been a salesman all my life I’m not the least bit intimidated.

 

So, I’ve crunched the numbers taking into consideration the price of my books, the exchange rate, shipping and tax and if I sell a book for $15 it’s $4 less than it can be purchased from Amazon and I can still make some money.

 

Enough, I hope, to at least cover the outrageous cost of parking downtown.

 

This is marginally better than selling my books at a flea market or garage sale, but if the world doesn’t want to buy them maybe the neighbourhood does.

 

I’m not afraid of taking chances, going in a new direction, and maybe, likely, failing. I never know where things will lead what’s important to me is to keep moving forward.

 

Well, at least to keep moving.

 

One thing’s for certain, if I do nothing, that’s what will happen.

 

Stay calm, be brave, watch for the signs.

 

30

 

Find reviews, blurbs and buy links to my seven novels and two plays at http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B003DS6LEU

 

Seduction as a higher purpose

Guy thinks he's God's gift to women and he just might be.

 

Handsome, impeccably groomed, fashion forward, buff, sophisticated, a gourmet chef, an exciting career as a talent promoter and wealthy - thanks to an inheritance from his grandmother.

 

Early in life Guy realized he had this power to attract women, but so what? Where was the challenge? Beautiful women were too entitled and too high maintenance, they were not grateful enough. On the other hand, plain women, say a four out of ten, the ones with the over processed hair, the "full figure" and no sense of fashion, well, they couldn't believe how lucky they were when he focused his many talents on them.

 

Why not give these women a one in a life time experience, maybe even elevate their self esteem to the point they could make something of themselves. After all, if someone a wonderful as him was interested in them, maybe they weren't the losers they though they were.

 

Dolores is one of these young women. Guy meets her in front of his beach house (part of grandma's inheritance) applies the "full press" for a week and then when she goes home to go to college never calls or returns hers.

 

Just another lucky loser, but ungrateful Dolores refuses to go away and the trouble begins.

 

Author Jowita Bydlowska has created a very memorable character, a chauvist pig for sure, but true to his own moral code. It's hard not to start to like her anti-hero as he struggles with all us lesser mortals wondering why those he interacts with are appalled by his insensitivity when we would feel the same as him if we could only be honest with ourselves.

 

Written in the first person, Bydlowska nails Guy's voice and her diction and dialogue are edgy, authentic and LOL funny. Her supporting characters are perfect foils for Guy to play off. The plot's fast paced and exceedingly contemporary.

 

This brilliant novel begins to unwind as it draws to a close The convoluted ending casts Guy out of character, stripped of his superiority, almost needy and with no apparent motivation. Did Bydlowska think her deliciously nasty, sociopathically insensitive protagonist needed redemption?

 

Too bad.

 

To be an indie author now - is to be a joke

This is my canned interview (you ask the questions and you answer them) on Smashwords, one of the self-publishing sites where my books are available https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/raglin

 

Anyway, I finally updated it and thought you might want to take a look at it. It begins with this question:

 

What motivated you to become an indie author?

 

I became an indie author because I couldn't get traditional publishers to publish my work.

 

That probably is the reason most writers became indie authors.

 

I published my first novel, Saving Spirit Bear in 2010 with an E-publisher after my attempts with traditional publishing houses had failed. At that time E-Book publishers were on the rise, hungry for content and they were eager for at least two more books from me.

 

Over the next two years they published Loving the Terrorist and Mad Maggie and the Mystery of the Ancients to complete my ECO-WARRIOR series.

 

Environmental fiction (Eco-fi) proved not to be a big seller with them, their catalogue being geared more to erotica, werewolves, vampires, and erotic werewolves and vampires. My stories were contemporary romances with a subplots that addressed an important environmental issue.

 

Since sales were not exactly stellar with my E-publisher and my contract with them was restrictive as to how I could promote these books I decided to investigate self-publishing for my next novel, The Big Picture - A Camera, A Young Woman, An Uncompromising Ethic if my attempts at acquiring a traditional publisher failed.

 

They did, and so I became an indie author.

 

Since then I have self-published three more novels: Forest - Love, Loss, Legend, Abandoned Dreams and The Local Rag and two plays: Harry's Truth and End of the Rope. When my contract ended with my E-publisher I yanked my first three novels and re-released them as self-published works.

 

Have they done better? No, but they haven't done worse and it's been more fun.

 

WHAT'S GOOD ABOUT BEING AN INDIE AUTHOR?

Glad you asked. I can offer promotions, sales, giveaways - I have total control over marketing my work. No sales, but still total control. And I like the creative aspect of publishing - the page design, the cover design, choosing fonts, all that stuff.

 

WHAT'S NOT SO GOOD ABOUT BEING AN INDIE AUTHOR?

There are now too many of us and unfortunately most of us don't write well, and that's putting it mildly. So for you, the reader, it's almost impossible to tell if an indie author is worth reading or just a waste of $3.99 (the price of my e-books).

 

I know this because I make a point of reviewing the work of indie authors (see my YouTube channel Not Your Friend, Not Your Family Book Reviews)

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCH45n8K4BVmT248LBTpfARQ

 

This is frustrating not only for you but for me and it's only going to get worse. With no gatekeepers and so many sites making it easy for anyone to publish anything, self-published, indie authors have lost all credibility.

 

To be an indie author now is to be a joke.

 

This state of affairs has made me rethink my role as an author - indie or otherwise.

 

I love to write, I love the research that goes into developing my characters, plots and settings, but I also want to connect to readers. The likelihood of this happening, of making this connection with readers in any significant way for an indie author is virtually nil.

 

After seven years, and seven novels and two plays I'm going back to the old fashion way. I submitted my last manuscript, East Van Saturday Night - Four short stories and a Novella to a traditional publisher and am now waiting for a response. If I get rejected, and I likely will, I'll send it to another one, and another one and so on.

 

I don't need to self publish to enjoy the writing and the research and this method of getting my work out there is not fulfilling my other need - connecting to you, the reader, in a meaningful way.

 

So it's back to the future for this author.

 

Stay calm, be brave, watch for the signs.

30

 

Smashwords 2017 Read an E-book Week Promotion

March 5 to 11

Thousands of free and discounted

 

E-books Authors and Publishers enroll now at

 

https://www.smashwords.com/dashboard/sitewidePromos

 

Promotional catalogue at

 

https://www.smashwords.com/books/category/1/newest/1)

 

My free E-book as part of the promotion, FOREST - Love, Loss, Legend

 

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/515038

 

Other discounts from my bibliography at

 

https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/raglin

 

in

Medicine Walk - authentic, complex, brutal in it's truth

 

Franklin Starlight never knew his mother and the few encounters he's had with his alcoholic father left him hurt and disappointed.

 

He's been raised on a small ranch in northern British Columbia by "the old man", who's taught him everything he knows about ranching and wilderness survival. He's also taught him about integrity, self-esteem and the qualities of good character.

 

At sixteen, Franklin's more a man then most.

 

When he gets a call from his father he's tempted to ignore it, but this time it's different. His father is dying of liver disease and wants Frank to help him travel to remote ridge forty miles out in the wilderness. Once there he wants "a warrior's death", buried sitting upright in the ground facing east "so he can follow the rising sun across the sky to the Happy Hunting Grounds."

 

As it's his father's dying wish, Frank feels duty-bound to oblige him. Besides, he's longing to know more about his family history including how he came to be brought up by the "the old man".

 

So begins the journey, from a small mill town into the wilderness, Frank walking and leading a horse his father rides because he is too weak to walk.

 

As each mile passes Franklin begins to know his father as the man slowly divulges his personal history, Franklin's history.

 

In Medicine Walk, Richard Wagamese has created a story that resonates on many levels. There's the portrayal of a Spartan way of life defined by hard manual labour, loyalty and integrity as conveyed in the characters of Franklin and "the old man".

 

Then there's the life Franklin's father has lived - one of never facing up to your demons and using alcohol to keep them at bay.

 

It's a story of the extremes of human nature - of doing the right thing no matter how tough and painful it is, and doing everything to avoid it.

 

Wagamese' dialogue is authentic, his characters complex, and his story is brutal in it's truth.

 

 

 

 

Story of disgraced journalist lacks credibility

Kitty Logan is a disgraced journalist. In her unbridled drive for success she's cut corners and libeled an innocent man. The tabloid television news show she worked for is being sued for a lot of money.

 

The only one who still believes in Kitty is Constance, an editor and Kitty's mentor, but Constance is dying.

 

When Kitty asks Constance what story she regrets not writing, Constance tells her to fetch a file folder from her office. In the file is a list of one hundred names and nothing else. Before Constance can explain the importance of these names or how they're related she dies.

 

Partly because Kitty sees this as an opportunity to salvage her career and partly as a tribute to her late friend she decides to investigate these names and see if she can find and write the story that links them.

 

She can't. Or at least she hadn't been able to forty percent into the novel.

 

Rather than the unfolding of a promising plot premise the reader is presented with Kitty's very ordinary life, with the exception of excrement being smeared on her front door numerous times from irate readers and supporters of the man she libeled.

 

After interviewing a half dozen or so people on Constance' list and getting nowhere Kitty's getting frustrated and so was I.

 

At the beginning I had stretch my suspension of disbelieve to include the improbable plot point the the story hangs on - that a tabloid news show would allow a story to air that accuses a high school teacher of sexual misconduct with a student and fathering her child without solid evidence, like maybe DNA testing. I mean, do they have a death wish?

 

Being a journalist myself I know this would never be allowed to happen. If the reporter was incompetent enough to submit such an incendiary story without irrefutable evidence it would have been killed by the news editor, and for sure never got past the producer.

 

However, besides this grievous lack of research of the author's part I finally abandoned the novel because the story was boring and the writing mediocre.

 

Six names down, ninety-four to go? I don't think so.