Demands Beyond writing – Promotion and Its Complexity

It’s More than Creative Writing

Did you know writing would be this complicated?

In olden days a writer found an agent and the agent found a publisher. Sure that’s a little simplistic, but it was broad stroke for how it was before self publication. When my wife and I wrote our workbook to help stepchildren adjust to their new family a good friend took it into Doubleday and they published it. They sent us on a national tour including an appearance on the Phil Donahue Show. Those days are gone.

How It Is Now

It seems publishers only talk to agents and agents don’t talk to—I don’t know who. In short there is no easy way forward to get a book published, publicized and marketed. It seems it is mostly up to the author. Of course there are predators out there who engage authors and charge incredible fees for doing things which are of little use. I won’t go into that mess. But we experienced it.

And Then There is the Promotion and Author Help Industry

There are books to help us write books, there are books to help us edit books and on and on. Advice pours forth from multiple sources and it is up to us to sort it and make sense of it. I’ve spent some years now reading sorting and in the end came down to trying it out. Some of the advice turns out to be dated, some spot on. 

The Best Advice

One of the best pieces of advice I read was to be patient. I’ve become quite clear that nothing works right away. It is said that there are 3500 books “published” each day. That comes down to a huge crowd and a lot of noise. It takes time to be noticed. The other things I got clear about was that things have to be tried and then we have to adapt.

Having a Thick Skin

Some things we have to listen to are writing related and some general publicity and advertising issues. But there is also reality. When the first of the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy was published, the very first review on Amazon gave it one star. It was not to the reader’s taste, she thought the vocabulary was “too big” and she couldn’t write an effective sentence. Got that. And there it sat on the Amazon page all alone as I worked to attract other reviews. Who is going to buy a book with one star? It took some time, then the five star ratings showed up and the total climbed. Phew! The world is not an even, supportive place.

Being Fair With Each Other

One of the things I concluded immediately is that we need to be fair with each other. When I pick up a book and don’t resonate I have to be honest that the issue may be me and not the book. We don’t all like the same things. I’m not much of a fan of word heavy literature or that’s what I would term it. I want that book in my hand to be stirring and along with it my imagination and that essential thing in my life “possibilities” must call out to me. I’ll rate books but won’t rate books that are not to my taste. It wouldn’t be fair or reasonable.

Endurance

I guess in the end what I would say is that we have to endure and stay with our projects. Let’s face it, we like the creative writing process and some people accept it as a hobby and don’t expect to sell much and may not even try to promote it. It seems best if we weigh our goals and accept the complex noisy world in which we live. We learn to improve our writing skills and we have to learn what to expect and to accept endurance is essential.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

Author Issues

Do you believe writing fiction is a straightforward endeavor?

A Complex Endeavor

I opened this new series with a post about choosing categories. Writing actually has become an increasingly complex endeavor. I thought I might share some thoughts for my fellow authors. But the rest of you are invited to listen in. You might find it amusing or even interesting.

What Happened?

Many (very many) years ago I had the inspiration to write fiction. I found it engaging and interesting. It was fun to be creative. Looking back I think the impulse to write happened when I reached a life change point.

Anyway, I started writing. Then came a deeply moving job which took all my energy. Then came a divorce, a new marriage, two more children from her first marriage, a new career and on and on. Life takes energy and commitment and each time I started something new, other demands got in the way.

Life Settled Down – Well Not Quite

Later, much later, my life settled down and a new idea for fiction emerged. I thought it interesting to pursue it. My wife had been working on screen plays and gave me Dara Marks Transformational Arc. What a neat way to scope out the progress and development of a book!
So I settled in with the reassurance that I had a structure to guide me.

And then demanding characters began to show up. I had an idea and these demanding people insisted on their inclusion and of course, they brought with them their personality, conflicts and foibles among other things. And then the psychologist had to look out because he began to pick up on their inner conflicts. That doesn’t sound so bad except it leads to conflicts of all sorts that can get in the way of the story and its development.

I’m blogging about some of these people including Avery, Brigid and Luisa among others.

Enhancement and Complications

It may sound nice to have characters showing up because they bring enhancement of the story. Well, not quite. They bring more than enhancement. They complicate the story and so the book became a trilogy – I think. It seems there may be a fourth book stirring.

And through it all I began to see that the story was filled with themes. I could see mythology which had always intrigued me and the prospect of the impact of waves of humanity possibly leading to transformation. But above all, what was striking was the fact of these women’s lives. Back in the 1960s I became intrigued by the process of women’s liberation that has now become the work to end the subjugation of women. Steadily I could see that my commitment to feminism was having an impact on the story and the development of characters.

Never-ending

I’m going to leave this there for now. There are so many other matters that come into the authors life. I’ll be addressing some of them. Have a nice day. I’ve got work to do and it isn’t fiction writing. So much else has cropped up.

Did you believe writing fiction might actually involve crowd sourcing?

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

The Problem With Ratings

 

Manikin leaping from reflective sphere in fantastic landscape

What do you think about the issue of ratings for fiction?

What a Nuisance

When someone is writing fiction it seems likely that the primary reason they are doing it is to write fiction. Duh! It is an interest pursuit and can be challenging in a way that is fulfilling. Unfortunately, in most instances the author would also like to sell some books. Maybe they have a dream of being greatly successful or at least would hope there would be some sales.

And so that means it’s necessary to be involved in promotions. Ugh. The dreaded promotional process. It can be cumbersome and time consuming and is not exactly creative. Since it is quite likely that the book will be sold on Amazon the author will begin to see ratings go up. It is at that point that the author needs a perspective on just what they mean. Here are some thoughts.

My Recent Experience

In the spring Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power was published. I anxiously awaited the first reviews and ratings. Then came the first one. It was a one star. Very far from what I hoped. It lingered there alone on Amazon for quite some time. Not a high point. In the review the person said “vocabulary to advanced for subject matter”. There were other errors in spelling and grammar in the comment. Let me just say that the book obviously was not suitable for them and probably not to their taste. Fortunately, shortly other ratings began to show up with 5 star ratings clearly coming to dominate. Large breath of relief.

Choosing to Rate a Book

In working on promotion it was clear to me that there are very distinct categories and people have clear preferences. I will not review or rate a book that is not within one of my fields of interest or preference. If I don’t like the subject matter I don’t have to read it to know I won’t like it. Well, at least most of the time. Sometimes I’m surprised.

What to Expect

I’m sure there are widely divergent opinions but my perspective is that if five stars absolutely dominate then it is likely that the person has a following. That isn’t always the case but it is sometimes. The import of that is that an author, particularly at the beginning, needs to temper his or her perspective and expectations. Since ratings are often done by reviewers it can be expected that a reviewer will be critiquing a book. And that means when they see a problem or a shortfall it will probably dictate a lower rating. That is fair enough.

A Perspective

The bottom line is that ratings are valuable to authors and readers alike. But the numbers don’t stand alone. Among them are reviews and reviewers can give an added perspective. And the author needs to be ready for the rating which represents a person who simply doesn’t like the genre or the level at which it is presented.

What has been your experience with ratings and reviews?

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

Book Contest Awards Received

I’m pleased to announce that awards have been received for Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power. It is the first book in the Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy.

It received awards from:
New England Book Festival
London Book Festival
Hollywood Book Festival

 

 

Coming this spring is book 2 of the trilogy: Gaia’s Majesty-Challenge: The Chosen Rise.
We will be moving swiftly into our future.

Life Wins Almost Every Time

 

What sudden shifts have you experienced in your life?

Clarity Versus Reality

We may maintain contradictory beliefs at the same time. We often “know” about our future and what we want one moment at a time. But life has a way of having other “thoughts” for us. A trip to Washington, D.C. and the halls of Congress is instructive.

A Political Environment is Almost a Life Form in Itself.

There is a class of political beings clearly to be seen. Almost routinely they are clad in dark blue or black suits whether they are men or women. These are the aides and the employees of the members of Congress. Many of them fought hard to get their jobs. Sometimes it wasn’t a matter of simply applying. Often it involved service in successful political campaigns. In some cases they had to serve a number of times before their candidate won and they could join him or her in government. They could then come along for a glorious career.

Except there is a sobering note. There is an age group missing in DC. The dominant age group jumps from twentysomethings to middle age. Why is that?

Along Comes Destiny

The problem is that fabulous face. It is seen across a room at a party or a gathering of some kind. Two people enchant each other and then the most terrible thing happens. They desperately want to be together and that generally leads to a passionate involvement, marriage and children. Setting up the appropriate household and managing the insistent newcomers are all consuming. And so the careers are interrupted or end. The political passions are replaced by the personal passions and associated needs.

It often seems that this almost inevitable human event was not foreseen. The focus was on the moment and the excitement of the career. At some point we once again see the insistence of a reality we live on the edge of. Isn’t it amazing how we can evade the almost certain element of life which is just waiting out there? We do an extraordinary balancing act with these various facets of our lives. The adventure may only be for a time. Or at least that particular adventure. And often the fiction writer plays out the scenarios for us. Perhaps we should pay more attention to fiction.

What is your style in pursuing fiction? Do you consider it or experience it?

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

Who We Are, Versus Who We Think We Are

 

A Challenge for Each of Us

Our personal identity is a constant challenge for each of us at all levels. We have to assume an identity in order to function but, in fact, we may have a very different identity from that assumed by other people. On a day by day basis we can’t trouble ourselves with these matters. Why would we? So we make an assumption and forge ahead.

The fact is that most of the time we probably think not at all about issues of identity unless we are challenged or face a problem. Sooner or later there will come an event when someone will ask “Who the hell do you think you are?” The question may mean the person is offended by a position we have taken or it may be a more fundamental challenge. If it is the latter then we truly are challenged.

Our Personal Identity

And sometimes we are perfectly clear about who we are but are in hiding. Others may think they know us but do not. There may be a fundamental mixture of comfort and pain.

Now, with these questions, if you are confused or feel lost then you thoroughly understand why we do not dwell on such questions most of the time. It is only at crisis point that we must attend.

And Then One Day…

And writers of fiction often come to the point where they wonder who their characters really are or where they came from. One of the reasons to have an outline and a firm understanding of the story is that it keeps us focused rather than letting us get lost in a fantasy related to a character’s identity or our own identity. Or is that the point of writing fiction? Can we expand our world and our identity? Are we often asking questions we want to explore.

Different Kinds of Meaning

The fact is that we who write fiction are almost surely not simply engaging in an interesting exercise or a labor of love. It seems likely that our engagement goes much deeper. As a psychologist I know that what we are doing is often a reflection of our personality. Those of us who engage in speculation and fantasy are different creatures from the people who focus on the glory of the turn of the phrase. In my dissertation I sought to answer the question “does the painter’s work reflect his personality?” The literature was full of unfounded psychoanalytic speculation.

But Carl Jung gave us a magnificent personality typology free of bias and authority. I found the personality of the painter was clearly displayed in his work. In discussing my dissertation results with artists I could see their focus and how their personality identity shaped their work. A study with writers would probably uncover some interesting differences. As I step back and look at the characters in my Gaia’s Majesty Trilogy I see a melange of parts of me, people I would like to know and layers of identity issues.

What do you see when you take this viewpoint into the act of creation?

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt

Choosing a Book Category

 

The First Step – Or So You Thought

What category have you chosen for the type of books you prefer to write?

So, at last your book is nearing completion. The proofreading will come to an end shortly and its time to take a serious look at listing and promotion. Each site, whether for sale or promotion, offers you a list of choices for listing your book under a category.

Now Comes a Question

The first thing is to decide where your book belongs. Of course you love your book and there are some obvious categories that can be discarded. But then comes some more difficult decisions. The largest category, with 70% of books, is romance. But where within this category does your beloved book belong. You may have an opinion, but the public may have a different opinion.

Making a Decision

With Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power I thought to put it under fantasy. Clearly mermaids were not exactly in the center of what we call the real world. And, of course, there was the involvement of our Earth Goddess, Gaia. So, initially I put it under fantasy. But there was one problem. Its setting was in the present day and the characters were living in a contemporary setting—mostly. So there was a reality orientation and what I learned quickly was that there were many fantasy fans who found it not nearly fantastic enough.

I looked at sci-fi but that didn’t work either. Gradually I had to refine my search and when I looked at each type of category I found that my view of the book and description was not necessarily a good fit.

A Strange Choice

At last I had to begin to focus on “fiction”. No kidding. Well, it definitely was fiction but so was anything else for sale—aside from nonfiction. So, I began to scan the offerings in various promotional sites. I found a rather large divergence of offerings which was not surprising. Often I came back to literary fiction. My initial reaction was that it was simply not appropriate. The word literary means to me something carefully composed which uses meaningful turn of phrase. My book did not fit that at all and besides I admire literature but don’t read it. I want an intriguing story that makes me think and consider such carefully constructed stories as composing a field over which I stumble.

What I Came To

In the end I had to select fiction. Sometimes just plain fiction and sometimes literary fiction. In literary fiction I found other books with which I was comfortable. And if it was offered, which it sometimes was not, I selected magical realism. My book had a modern day reality setting with a mythological underpinning. Given my belief as a psychologist that we humans live on the cusp of reality, it was a perfect fit. There are so many ways to discover and describe our personal and collective worlds that magical realism fit my preferences perfectly. Or I simply had to settle for fiction or literary fiction. After that it was up to me to describe and present it. Now I’m more comfortable and it seems I’m beginning to find the audience which works with the book. When writing fiction, this was not a set of choices I had expected.

How clear are you about the proper choice of category for the type of books you prefer or are writing.

Gaia’s Majesty-Mission Called: Women in Power by Roger B. Burt

Roger B. Burt’s Amazon home page

Creating Characters and Plots by Roger B. Burt

Stepfamilies: Professionals and Stepcouples in Partnership

Whatever Happened to Community Mental Health by Roger B. Burt