Thursday, October 28, 2010

A day when nothing is pending

On Monday I had to go to the dentist to have my inplant tightened, The dentist said it had come loose because my bite was not right. Tuesday was repairman day. Wednesday was return something day. Today, I woke up and nothing was pending.  It's rare to have a day like this because the business of living, no matter how simple your life, takes up so much time.  Even if you pay bills on line and make a big pot of lentil soup that you can eat all week, there are still so many things to do. For instance the baking portion of my new stove is bizarre.  The oven turns on and off by itself during the baking.  I hate that.  My old stove just stayed on and burned everything on the outside while the inside was still raw.  I understood that.  Should I call the Help Line and ask if this is normal?  I've already called and asked how to set the timer and the man had to look it up in the manual.  Another thing,  I could spend the next three weeks just cleaning my house.  I don't live near any industry but my house is full of dust and spiderwebs,
I have a lot of trouble wrecking spider webs.  I think of myself as a big senseless giant coming to wreck the hard work of an industrious small creature. Who am I to decide what is yucky and what is good work to be saved.

If I worked all day on my new book, Tough As Nails, and let the dust and the spider webs alone, I would probably feel elated but I can't seem to settle down.  I'm flitting around the house like the crazy, adult ADD afflicted detective in Tough As Nails.  Maybe that's it.  I'm trying to get into character.  I love my crazy character and I guess, by extension, I'm getting to love those flaws in me.  Toward the end of the day, I googled myself and found that someone had responded to a comment I had made on the Huffington Post. This man, M.E.  had added a link to my books on Amazon.  Can you imagine?  A stranger read my comment, saw that I was self-publishing, went to Amazon,  found the author page and posted the link to it.
Here are Consuelo's books, he said.  I can't get over it.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The DeVine Ms. K

I just saw Kelly DeVine at the Hamptons Film Festival.  She is doing for dormant dvd's what Amazon is doing for dormant books - getting them back in the marketplace.  She said she met with the Amazon people and asked them:  what business are you in?  Their answer:  We are in the service business.  We service customers. Good answer.   Kelly Devine gave me a great marketing tip.  She told me that instead of just sitting in my little office on Sherrill Road with the shades down I had to go further afield and post comments on any reasonable site where I could make a contribution. I took Kelly's advice and posted on the website of a couple of films that related to one of my books and here's what happened: Two friend requests showed up.  One is a Yale professor and the other goes by the name of Actionman Jackson.  Both are serious, smart people and committed political activists.  Thank you, Kelly.

Kelly also told me about, a device that instantly relays any responses to your post.    Is it good to know everything instantly, all the time?   The routine now for pregnant women is to look in regularly on the gestating child and see what the baby is doing.  A friend just told me that his gestating baby is sucking his thumb and hiccoughing.  I say, leave those babies in peace.  This is their last chance at privacy.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A new range and five unexpected sales

I live in a house that was built about one hundred years ago.  It came with an old Roper gas range that was made at a time when we didn't know about cholesterol, vegans, PETA or how they slaughtered animals for meat supply.  On the inside of the oven door there are instructions on how to cook beef, veal, lamb, ham and poultry.  This oven does not acknowledge carbohydrates as something to avoid.  There are  instructions on how to cook double crusted pies, scalloped dishes, baking powder biscuits,  double layered cakes, etc.  This range has a rounded and clumsy old fashioned look.  It has a big warming compartment next to the oven where I store the lids to all my pots and various ladles and slotted spoons. 
The range stopped working well about five years ago.  One of the burners disintegrated and when you lit it, the flame was uneven and out of control.  Another burner went the next year.  The pilot light on the remaining burners would not stay on and every time someone came to my house they said the same thing:  I smell gas.Still I nursed my range.   There was a news story about a  house that blew up because of a faulty range. I held on to my range.  A repairman who came to my house called the gas company to report my range, fearing for my safety.  The gas company man came and declared my range safe.  Even I was surprised.  The third burner gave out recently and the oven only lights after several tries and sometimes not at all.  It's time.
In thirty-six hours, The Home Depot is bringing me a spanking new GE gas range with sealed burners that are electronically ignitable.  I am emptying the warming oven and throwing away lids that have lost their pots, old wooden spoons, a mesh lid to keep bacon fat from spattering on your face and a broken vegetable steamer. I know that the new range will bring change that has nothing to do with cooking.  I am trying to prepare for that change. I feel, in some ways, the way I felt when the last child left for college.

This has nothing to do with my new range but two days ago for no apparent reason I sold five copies of my ebook Daughters in an afternoon.  My normal sales history is one or none books a day and occasionally two books a day.  You can imagine my astonishment when the sales number next to Daughters kept jumping. I have nothing to say about that except that it made me feel ebullient and that's a word one doesn't use often enough.

Monday, October 18, 2010

I have a follower

I am new to blogging, new to epublishing, new to happiness and now new to delirium.  I have my first  follower.That means that a stranger, having no ties to me whatsoever, is reading my blog.  I got an e-mail about it. It said, "you have a follower."  I had the same reaction as when I hired a private investigator to find my long lost mother and he sent me a letter:  I am happy to report that I have found your mother.  In both instances, my immediate reaction was:  What now?  I will leave my mother story alone for now and concentrate on my follower.  What now?  Now I have a responsibility to be good at blogging and not let my follower have reader's remorse.
There is a wonderful aspect to having a stranger follow your blog.  They don't know you.  They are approaching you simply because of a shared interest or because they like your writing style or because they like the way you empty your mind on the blog.  I didn't know that what I had been yearning for all these years was not money or a kitchen redo or even better hair.  I was yearning for a public spot in which to empty my mind.  That's why I now know what happiness feels like.

My follower is not new to epublishing.  She has been doing it for ten years.  Ten years!! And now, she says, it is beginning to take off. She also says a lot of other things that are true regarding the freedom to publish your work, almost instantaneously.  My follower has also introduced a new dimension to self-publishing.  She mentions pods.  Until I read that, I was pretty satisfied that I had my backlist books and some new books in the Kindle Store.  But NOW I have to investigate pods.  Also, I have to realize - and this is hard - that my follower probably knows a heck of a lot more about ebooks than I do but for some reason, this wonderful stranger wants to hear what I have to say.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

What Happy Feels Like

A couple of days ago I was heading for the kitchen door to go outside and I had this thought:  Maybe I'm happy.  If you knew me well, you'd know that my preferred state of mind is to be disconcerted - just a trifle perplexed and annoyed and picking the scab over some event I should have let go.  But that day, I was  alert, purposeful and satisfied.  Happy.  What's more, I had been "happy" for several days. Most of us associate being happy with that delirious "i just won the lottery," or "I met the man of my dreams," or "I sold my book," euphoria that soon evaporates and sometimes leaves a numb aftermath.  This was a calm sustainable happiness.

This happiness was more of the slow understanding that perhaps I had finally hit on a combination of activities that made me feel purposeful.   Publishing my writing on all the ebook platforms and learning   good ways to market the books seems to be what I have been wanting to do most of my life.  This sounds dramatic but is not meant to be. In a very simplistic way,  my prayers have been answered.  I like to write, I like to sell things and I like to share the ideas I glean from daily life.  I'm writing my books, selling them and, with this blog, sharing the thoughts I glean from daily life.

We don't always recognize answered prayers because they didn't come in the package we were expecting but keep checking to see if they didn't come in a better package.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

I learned to do an RSS feed

Last night at about 11 p.m. I decided the cover of my new Kindle book, Spellcheck Nation, needed more legible lettering.  My son had created a fabulous cover of a tattered flag, tied to a crooked stick, stuck in  desolate craggy terrain.  It reminded me of Eddy Izzards monologue on how England just sticks a flag in any world spot and declares "I now declare this land belongs to England."

We cobbled a more legible cover over the phone.  He e-mailed it to me, I uploaded it to my Smashwords page (what I like about Smashwords, unlike Amazon, is that it instantly plugs in changes without putting the book in "review" again.  I guess they want to be sure you didn't sneak in a picture of Hilary and Barak hugging and kissing.   In less than a minute, we saw the thumbnail of the new cover.  After that I thought I would tackle figuring out how to attach an RSS feed to this blog so it would show up on my Author page at Amazon.  Unlike Goodreads that took my blog with a web address, Amazon wanted a RSS URL.
Last week, I could have figured out how to do a frontal lobotomy before I could find a RSS URL  But now, energized by my adeptness at plugging in a new cover, I tackled the job.  Amazon has met up with the likes of me before and it gave me lots of hints and examples of what that type of url might look like.  After four tries I hit on the magic combination. This will be the first blog that appears on my Amazon Author page.  I don't know how to drive traffic to my Author Page or my books or this blog. There has not been one comment to this blog and I don't have any fans or followers.  Maybe one day when a person lands here by accident they will like it and tell another person.
 I did buy into two small promotions on the Kindleboards that will run in November and January.  I've sold four books in October and that is pretty good for me.Now let's see if this post shows up over at Amazon.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

An apology

Today, I'm blogging about life, not books.  I had to apologize today and instead of just focusing on the "I'm sorry," I focused on the person who was receiving the apology.  I wanted to search my internal settings and find out what I thought of the person and that would dictate the nature of my apology.  The aggregate of my file on the person was eye-opening.  I respected the person.  I admired the way the person went about his work and life.  I admired the work ethic.  I admired his ability to do hard things without complaint.  I would not have spent this time compiling a dossier if an apology wasn't necessary.  Something good came out of careless and hurtful behavior.

I recommend this procedure whenever an apology is in order.  An apology should be sincere.  It shouldn't just be blurted out as a self-serving "get out of trouble" or "do not go to jail" card.  That's it.  That's what I learned today.

I also have four new sales in my Amazon kindle store.  But here's an interesting aside.  At Smashwords, they have an option when you set your price to have the customer decide how much they want to pay.
I gave that option to my new collection of short stories Spellcheck Nation.  But the customer didn't pay anything.  Does that mean he didn't like what he read?  Hope not.  I liked all those stories.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The dreaded brown bar

Yesterday I went to my reports page in my Kindlebooks account where they show how many books you have sold and there was a dreaded brown bar with this ghastly message "No sales this period."  I knew that I had sold some books and I knew that I had earned about twenty dollars (don't scoff that was my initial two weeks.) Now it seemed it was all a cruel hoax.  I hadn't sold anything.

None of this was true, of course.  It was simply the first day of the month and all reports went back to 0. Later in the day I had a sale of "One Hundred Open  Houses" and it made me very happy to see white instead of brown and that neat little 1 under "units sold."  I am particularly gratified that One Hundred Open Houses is my bestseller.  This was a book suggested by my agent at a time in my life when I had not asked my brain to do anything more than watch repeats of "Deal or No Deal" on the Game Show Channel.
 The idea of writing an entire book was not only beyond my mental ability but also my physical ability because I had developed senior  AADD.  That translates into an inability to sit still for more than three to five minutes before flitting off to do some non-sequential chore that I had not thought of until that moment.  It was fear, pure and simple, that strapped me to the computer until I finished the assignment and One Hundred Open Houses, a book of real estate and life, was born.  My agent promised that the publishing world would snap up this little wonder book.  The publishing world read the manuscript, lauded the concept and writing and ultimately passed on purchasing the book.  NOW that I AM the publisher and can sell my writing without the constraints of traditional publishing, halleluiah, One Hundred Open Houses gets the most sample downloads on Smashwords (more on that later) and has the most sales on Amazon.

So once again OHOH has saved me from despair.  Some wonderful e-reader saw fit to purchase this title  and get rid of the brown bar of shame.  Thank you, stranger.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Short Stories I Forgot About

It takes a while for ebook publishing knowledge to seep through your brain.  I've been visiting "The Writers' Cafe on the Kindleboards and picking up information although I can tell the people there are pros at marketing and getting exposure.  One other trait I didn't expect to find is GENEROSITY.  Ask a question, whine about your sales, beg for help on some tech problem and you get a boatload of helping hands and thorough outlines of how to proceed.  These are some of the things the authors in The Writers' Cafe do:
They do quid pro quo reviews to add to the book listings.  I'm sure they are sincere.  They answer other posts so that their books show up in their signature over and over.  They announce good news and that always gives you hope.  The thing about these seasoned kindle authors is that they know how to do blog links and avatars and writing little reviews under the image of their books.  I haven't yet learned to do any of that although I am trying my best.  I sort of cobble together things and sometimes get the appropriate result.  Here again, though, there's always some wonderful soul who will do it for you.  That's what they say:  Here, let me do it for you.
Many of my fellow ebook authors have suggested I join Goodreads and LibraryThing.  I've gone over to Goodreads who already had an author page for me from my printed books.  I have to tell you it is almost impossible to navigate that site.  A prompt will say:  add new books here.  Then you get a browse button and you browse and choose but nothing shows up.  I try e-mailing but I get a lazy answer. "you have to have the right URL." she says. That's like saying, "my three year old can count to ten."  In other words, not a good answer.
One other suggestion I received for sales activity:  there's nothing better for boosting sales than adding a new title.  I don't know about you but I can't write a novel overnight (although there's a guy on the boards that attempted to do just that).  But in looking through my files I found four perfectly good short stories (one had even received a laudatory hand-written note from Esquire) and now I will get my son, Nicholas to put together a nice cover and put them up for sale at .99.  I can hear the collective gasp.  .99 cents!!!

Calm down.  This is like a loss leader in the grocery store.  Come in for the Barrila Spaghetti Sauce at two for five and stay to buy all the impulse overpriced items.  Not that anything I've got to sell is overpriced.  2.99 is the highest price and recently I reduced some books to 1.99.  This is a recession and if I can sell twenty books at 1.99 and maybe five at 2.99 I'm still making money.  This is all hypothetical, I have not yet sold twenty books.

Today I signed up for a promotion "Book of the Day" wherein your book and link to Amazon store is placed at the head of all kindleboard forums.  This allowed me to initiate my PayPal account. I don't know what day, I will be the featured book but it's exciting to think those sales figures will jump around.  I'll let you know what happens.