Bits and pieces

Item #1:  “If you stay at table long enough, eventually the chips will come your way.”  Maybe, Henry Winkler (and so glad you finally got your Emmy award), but the Persistent Writer has been at the table longer than any other writer she knows, and never quite seems to break even. The newest book launch confirms this: It started out promisingly enough, but then—for reasons completely beyond my control, i.e. internal turmoil at Amazon, combined with their constant tinkering—everything kind of fell apart. Not that I’m all that concerned about it; I knew this particular book would be a  slowly building thing, but…geez, ‘Zon, get your act together! My paperback edition is of particular concern—apparently it was one of the last books ever to be published by the entity Createspace, which is now no more. Its operations are being absorbed into Amazon’s Kindle publishing, and right now neither Kindle nor the defunct Createspace are properly reporting sales (according to both, I’m selling none), although the paperback has a very respectable sales ranking, which is somewhat reassuring. Have to wait for them to sort it all out, but wish I didn’t have to worry about this crap.

Item #2: In regard to the above item, another difficulty is the advertising scheme ‘Zon has set up  for us independents. They decided to  revamp the whole thing earlier this month, which I admit was an improvement, making it much easier to decipher (It’s all about ‘impressions’ and “clicks”—basically it’s those annoying recommendations you see on any given book’s sale page, but they seem—or once seemed—to work.) The trouble is,  I’ve been working to keep my click-bids as low as possible, at literally pennies, to stay within my promotion budget (which is damned low to begin with), but other authors have no problem pouring in ridiculous sums just to get their own books into choice spots.  The worst are weekends, which used to be quite profitable: It seems you can’t bid enough for a weekend spot, but I’m not stooping to that. So it’s basically impossible to compete this month: First off, everyone and their brother has a new book out in September, which for some reason is considered a prime book-buying month (this has not been my experience though; October and November are better). It’s also hard when there’s a “big” book out: Woodward’s book ‘Fear’ pretty much sucked all the oxygen out of the publishing room: At a whopping $14.99, it was still the number-one best-selling Kindle book this week. Then the advertising is off because it’s so new, and other desperate authors are just throwing stupid money at it. I shrug. If this was easy, we’d all be best-sellers. I’m still a believer in old-fashioned word-of-mouth and gradually building a reputation, even if most other authors don’t, so nothing to do but hang in there for now.

Item #3: Enough shop talk…I am just sick about rotten Hurricane Florence, and the drowning of the Carolinas. I love the Carolinas, both north and south; I have some very dear friends and family down there. And  I know full well what it’s like to climb into a rocking police boat from the top of my front stairs, and sail down what was your former street in the pouring rain.  It’s humiliating and humbling, but to the victims of Florence, let me just say this: Swallow  your pride, and just accept everything that is offered to you: whether it’s clean clothing, shelter, Red Cross meals, help from volunteers with cleaning and scrubbing out your house. Just take it. And keep after FEMA and your insurance company, make them do their job. Don’t worry about taking charity, as I once did, just accept it all as part of the circle and cycle of life; someday you’ll have the opportunity to pay it forward.

Item #4: My last post was about older men and younger women; it got a lot of attention, but I’m a bit surprised no one called me out on Thomas Merton and his infatuation with that student nurse (21 at the time) when he was in his fifties. Yeah, it’s kind of creepy, but having read his side of it, in his journals, I don’t think he was preying on her. A lot of my fellow Mertonites love this episode of his life, and it’s why Volume Six of his journals is so hard to find; but I—usually the romantic—never saw the charm in it, it always seemed a pathetic interlude in what was otherwise a stellar sort of life. Though I guess he wins points for honesty. But his friend Father Irenaeus—who I suppose found out about it from Merton’s biographer, Michael Mott—would likely have been embarrassed, but resignedly accepting of it. He did say once, toward the end of his life that Merton “wrote too much,” and as much as I admire old Tom, I would have to agree. But that seems a failing for most writers, myself included…

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