It’s a scary jungle out there for self-published authors

You would think I would have learned my lesson by now. But I know I’m still a babe in the woods hoping I can find the magic promotion that will translate into brisk sales. My book, When a Stranger Comes… is a gripping read that also has an important message about greed. So I fall for all the promos touting their ability to garner sales.  I try and try and find myself being scammed again and again. I’m spending money out of my comfort zone thinking I have to do that for a good return. The only ones making a buck are the companies scamming me.

There is a way to fight back however. A person can file a claim against a company through PayPal. I did that recently and was refunded my entire amount of purchase. When a promotion company promises ads in magazines, a media kit, exposure with bloggers and will not send one link or copy of the media kit, there is a problem and PayPal agreed. In another case, I asked for a refund and got it from the company. I am now trying to get my money back from a company that saids it knows how to write Amazon ads.  An expensive try for me with zero return.

I would much rather have the promos work than get a refund. The quick excuse is my cover stinks. But the book has great reviews and won an award. Doesn’t that count for anything? On one book tour the audience posted out that they LIKED the cover. So go figure.

It’s a conundrum this self-publishing business. My book is quality literature but in my assessment it’s the crap that sells for 99c or given away in self-publishing that gets readers.   Until my dying breath, I will keep trying to gain readership. What else can I do? Maybe I’ll catch on, may be I won’t.

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Creating an audible book

Creating an audible book is fun and also tons of work. I recommend using the open source software Audacity to edit your recording. It’s simple to use much like cutting and pasting in Word. I also enjoyed narrating my work because I became engrossed in the story I created and my MC and pat myself on the back for my excellent tale. The story is written in the first person so it was natural for me to read it. I narrated my first novel, Walking with Elephants and it’s for sale on Audible and Amazon. My original motivation stemmed from the idea that it would be a legacy to leave my grandchildren to hear my voice after I was long gone.

Creating the audible book for When a Stranger Comes… is slightly more challenging than my first project.  Firstly, there are accents. The MC’s mother is from Russia and so I went to YouTube and found voice actors who give you lessons on how to speak English with a Russian accent, also I found an online dictionary that will pronounce  words with a British accent, which I also needed. Then I decided to use an effect that Audacity offers to change pitch, so that I could sound like different people, different genders. The final result? I have no clue. We’ll see if Audible accepts this project, haha, but it sure was interesting.

I takes hours and hours to do this narration yourself and then the editing takes more hours. I almost hired a company to perform this task but the voice actor sounded like Alexa or Siri. So I wondered if that’s the quality listeners expect, robotic voices, and it doesn’t appeal to me. My book will sound real, human. We’ll see how this project plays out.

I just came off another major and costly disappointment. I bought an expensive promotion  from Chick Lit Cafe that had a zero return on investment. They gave the book a great review and placed it on various web sites for readers. I noticed that popular traditionally published books that have good sales were on these sites but also unknowns. The unknowns had terrible sales like me. Take away? Self-publishing is not the way to go for a career. My great reviews and awards do nothing because my topic is not a titillating knock off of Fifty Shades, or cowboy sex, or vampire sex. I’ve learned a lesson. Don’t expect much and enjoy the fact that most readers that take a chance on an unknown, love my work. I’ve priced it right now at $0.99 to try and attack a few more. Maybe my blog subscribers could give it a try?

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We all should be outraged

I am cocooned in my comfortable lifestyle. My children are all doing well in life. There is no gang violence or drug lords at my doorstep.  I have not been sexually assaulted nor have my daughters.

Yet, we now have a government that separates children from their parents who have come to this country to be safe. What greets these asylum seekers is torture for their babies, and the fear they will never see their children again. Think about that. This is the United States of America not nazi Germany. We are supposed to civilized, caring, and a role model for the rest of the world in how we treat people, in our humanitarian mindset. We have now become like the worst authoritarian governments on the planet. We are allowing torturing of children in camps  by having them sleep on cement floors with only solar blankets that offer no cushion, no diapers, no bathing. These camps that will become death camps if enough time passes. Already children have died after traveling many miles so seek freedom from danger and oppression but have met those fears right here at our border. It’s despicable what our country has become in just two years.  A government that wants to take way our free speech and the the free press. A divisive govt fueling hatred and supported by those on the fringes of society who hate anyone who is not white and Christian. This is the base that got this evil Hitler wannabe elected, along with the aid of Russia who historically has been our adversary. Russia does not wish Democracies to be a thriving form of government and in that mission got one of their own elected. And he is performing very well.

The misogyny of this WH is breath taking. The sexual assault on women by this Hitler wannabe would have disqualified anyone from staying in the WH. But our country is in a coma of evil. Members of the Senate are owned by Russian oligarchs, the re-election of this Hitler wannabe has raised tons of money by people who benefit from his message of hate and benefits for the wealthy. Will this stop? Will normal people take back this country in the next election? Hitler had a lot of support by Germans. No one thought that he would annihilate an entire segment of the population who were high-level contributors to their economy and culture. But he did.

No one would have thought that the family values Republican Party would support a president who tortures children, who has made orphans of those seeking safety. But the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell keeps getting re-elected to wield his evil obstruction to Bills that would save these children and protect our government from Russian interference.

Have we lost the United States of America. Are we no longer the “shining city on the hill”?

Please vote in 2020 to save our democracy.

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Death is a part of life. It is the big unknown and not fun to think about. My sister-in-law sent me an obituary that had been written by the deceased person, a man who had been suffering from ALS for years. It was a joyful tome to his anticipation of experiencing what comes next. His joy was in his surety that his experience would be the most wondrous. Oh that we could face death with that wonder and happiness. It was truly a gift for him and I hope his dreams of the afterlife have been fulfilled.  This year, there have been many celebrities who have past. A banner year for travel to that plane. And so I think about my own mortality.

I live in a 55 and older community and Sunday as I swam in the pool, I looked around. All of us die. All of us in the pool will die and soon. The human condition is to know of our own mortality and still take pleasure in the gift of life. The lucky ones, the ones who do not suffer from an illness, live in extreme poverty, spend their lives in a war zone, or who were born without one of five senses have truly won the lottery of life. I am one of those people and I acknowledge my gratefulness for it everyday, or at least, most days. To have been a traveler on the journey of life is not without its heartbreaks and loss, of which I had my share, but the crapshoot of your birth governs how you will spend your days. I also have chosen to let love into my life and to give love whenever I can. Each day that I wake, I bless my life, the environment of my life and the people who have given me so much love, Mother ‘s day and everyday.

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Focus on what’s important

In these troubling times of name calling, swearing, lying, and cheating, embracing dictators, murderous regimes, and foreign adversaries by our president, it’s important to take a step back and realize that life is not about politics. Life is about pursuing  contentment, knowledge, and love. Gaze into the heavens and see the plethora of stars and feel humbled. In that mass of stars, earth is but one planet among billions. How fortunate that life emerged here and evolved to such a point that we humans have created art, music, culture, languages, and writing it all down for future generations.

Literature, whether fiction of nonfiction creates a world view. Imparts a slice of life to remain forever in the annals of history. Fiction can give us insights into the past, like Gone with the Wind, or what the future will be in the minds of those living the current era like Blade Runner.  Sometimes fiction is prescient like the works of Orson Wells, or Jules Verne. Sometimes just flights of fancy for amusement like The World According to Garp or with political overtones like Alice in Wonderland or like my latest book When a Stranger allegory on how greed has corrupted all aspects of modern society.

We should all take joy and comfort in how we humans have had great thoughts that have lasted through the millennium, great discoveries in science and medicine. We can read about the ideas of Plato because he wrote them down, we can see the miracle of science by watching our TVs, working on our computers, carrying computer/phones in our pockets. In just my life time, I have seen all these modern wonders come to pass. When I wrote my master’s thesis it was on a typewriter, data keypunched into a mainframe. As a young girl, I had no cell phone to call for help when my car broke down.

Right now, I can look out my window and see beautiful trees and grass, blue sky, and breathe fresh air. For now, nature seems to be enduring, eternal, and brings us peace. A walk in the woods cheers our souls. A sighting of a deer brings joy. We must cherish this amazing evolution of self-aware life on this lonely planet. We are the keepers of this gift. We must not take it lightly. But we are seeing it start to slip away in our lifetime.

I am confident that when this evil government is brought to an end and we are able to once again trust our leaders, then Americans will focus on what’s necessary. Protecting our earth and all of its species, including us, from extinction. So that future generations can read all about the marvelous history of humanity, warts and all.

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