When I start a new writing project, I just jump in. I have an overall idea but not particulars. This sometimes gets scary because the narrative is in the details. How do I get from here to there? It just happens as I write. I start a sentence and it leads to another. I have an idea and it leads to another. One sentence a a time, one paragraph at a time that leads to a chapter, then another. Slowly it unfolds by itself. I am led in a direction…somehow. New characters pop up…somehow. I never do a story board, never write out the plot and characters. I sit down and write and the story comes to me. It’s a scary endeavor. I am at the mercy of the cosmos. Will the ideas come? Everyday, I wonder, will they come?
For my latest book, I got inspiration from something I read (I can’t remember where) about a love story plot. But it stayed with me. As I was swimming in the lake the arc of the story came to me. It was comforting and satisfying that the conflict between my two main characters came to me and I’m encouraged now that the details will come. It’s fun to explore the plot unfolding as I write. Have it emerge from the ether as I write. It is mind-boggling. And I am grateful for this gift.
A saying I have on a paperweight: Gratitude can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. I can add–Gratitude can turn sentences and paragraphs into a novel.
Today I got some disappointing news from an indie accreditation site. I was blindsided because my book got a fairly good review from Kirkus, Midwest Book Review, and my local paper. Alas, in publishing you can’t please every one. I loved the Goldfinch but a friend hated it and couldn’t finish it. I thought A Gentleman in Moscow was brilliant and it received it’s share of scathing reviews (thousands of good ones though). What confuses me is When a Stranger Comes… is more of a fantasy, magical realism tale in the tradition of Stephen King. For example, in one of his books his main character travels back to 1963 through a portal in a diner. For my book, the unflattering comments were that the plot wasn’t plausible. Can you believe it? My MC is transported to an alternate universe, the characters from her novels appear in the flesh and she makes a pact with the Devil. Yeah, it’s not plausible. That’s the point. It’s a trip to a make-believe world, a flight of fancy, a mind game to make some points about our real world where we are obsessed with the material. That we as humans are greedy and ignorant of how our greed is destroying our planet and ourselves.
I know, I should focus on the accolades and there have been those. I know I should focus on readers who totally got the point of this book. But I keep wanting all readers to love my work, to be incentivized to write good reviews, to tell their friends they found a good book. So I get a disappointed by a negative response and it hurts. I’ve got to get a thicker skin. I’ve got to not care. I really have a great life whether or not my writing gets noticed by the masses.
Live is good. Life is a miracle. I’m an excellent writer.
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As a self-published author, marketing my book is a daunting challenge. I don’t have endless sums to advertise so I test the waters with various promotions. After When a Stranger Comes… got a very positive review from Kirkus Reviews–the gold standard, I was psyched. So I decided to run an ad in their online magazine and two spots in their email. Needless to say the charge was quite dear. Much more than I have ever spent. $1,150 to be exact. But this was Kirkus. They touted a giant number of visitors to their website. Big email list. So I waited for the ad campaign to start with enthusiasm. What I got was a big fat nothing. Two sales the first week. Now I wait for the second and final week.
I didn’t understand the terms. I was a innocent fool. First of all, my ad shares the two weeks with two other ads. It is rotated so that when you hit the page it could be my ad or another ad. If you refresh or go back my ad could appear where the other ad was. They claim, I will get a report at the end with the number of impressions but I forgot to ask–how long does my ad stay fixed? A second? Because if you leave the page and come back to it my ad could be gone.
Needless to say, I would never buy another ad in an online magazine. Luckily, I didn’t go for the higher priced packages. I wonder how Kirkus has the nerve to charge so much for their advertising if the ROI is so poor. Or maybe it was just for my book. I had them create the graphic ( and that was $150 of the total) so it looked great.
So expensive lesson learned. I am hoping Bookbub will accept my book now that I have a great review from Kirkus but Amazon is my only outlet, so I don’t know. BookBub is not cheap but far less than Kirkus. However, a one day promo is estimated to have 3000 downloads in the thriller category. Even at $0.99, I can make back my investment plus I’ve sold a ton of books and helped build my platform.
Fingers crossed that the book is accepted on BookBub.