August is a time of great anticipation and apprehension as summer comes to an end. Parents are excited and children who are young enough not to know better are excited too. I must admit that August still has the refreshing feel of new beginnings for me- new books, new supplies, new teachers. It was ever green hope that the new school year would somehow be better, be different.
New Year’s Day has this same quality, a ritual celebration to compartmentalize last year’s events and memories, to put it away in favor of new beginnings. By the way, how are those resolutions coming along? I consider it a time to adjust and recommit to goals I was already working on, not make new ones. And one of those goals is to become a better writer.
January is also ‘back to school’ time, though most students are still reeling from the fall semester. For many, the spring semester is just the continuation of the academic year that they have to slog through to get to summer break. But consider that there are freshmen who start college late or high school seniors who start early. For them it is new and exciting. Consider the so-called ‘non-traditional’ student who is over age 40, who might be living up to that New Year’s resolution to finish their education or start a new career.
It’s self-published so not such a big deal. Anyone who can pull together a script and slap a halfway decent cover on it can be a published author these days because print-on-demand services do not check for worthiness of content. My market is so niche’ I didn’t believe that any publishing house would consider it. It wouldn’t make them enough money to be worth their time. Still, by all accounts it has done well. I sold 142 copies in the first three months and since 300 copies in the first year is considered success, I am almost halfway there.
But I promoted it. A lot. I am completely unknown and people are suspicious of independent authors for the reasons listed above (no check on worthiness). I paid for ads that showed my book to potential buyers 183,000+ times, at Christmas, and I sold 142 copies. *SIGH* Good thing that I am in it for the long haul. Book of Snark 1 will continue to sell and Book of Snark 2 is already in the works. I have eight text reviews on Amazon andsix text reviews on Goodreads, all good and not all from my friends and family. I even garnered a ‘drive-by’ anonymous 1-star rating without an associated text review on Amazon by whoever or whatever and a lovely text review on Goodreads from book blogger, Amie’s Book Reviews in Toronto, who said the book “will appeal to anyone and everyone who likes British humor”.
And so, my first ‘Book of Snark’ is published and spreading across the country. Most of my immediate fanbase has bought it. I hope they get a chuckle. Now the book faces the real test of the open market- which is flooded and has an ever-shrinking audience of readers. It will succeed or fail based on its own merit and how much suppression of organic reach FaceBook can muster. The book probably won’t win any awards or change the world, but I believe in its quality and value.
Choosing the cover for a book is a really big deal.
It is the primary marketing tool that remains with the book at all times… at least until the kids rip it off or hopefully it falls off from being read over and over. Despite the old idiom, ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’, people do.
Readers take under 3 seconds to decide whether they are going to spend any time with your book based solely on its cover. So, it must spark interest. It must be attractive enough to look like you cared, that you took the time to think about it. Because a sloppy cover promises a sloppy book and who wants to bother with that?
Book of Snark, Wit & Wisdom for the Angry Professional Woman on the Bus.
(see photo above)
It is not my first self-publishing project. In 2017, I edited the post-humous memoir Popcorn from the Void by my friend Todd Park about leukemia and what it’s like to undergo a bone marrow transplant. I knew no publishing house would touch it because it was based on his blog. The book received a lot of praise, both for content and construction. I submitted it to the Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards and though it got 30/30 points from its judge, it didn’t win or even get an honorable mention. Todd was a great man and it is a wonderful book with a lot of good stuff in it but the topic turns people off.
There is a lot of myth and romance around the dream of being a published author. The common belief among those who don’t know is that if you write a great book, success will follow. The truth is, if you write a great book, you are issued a lottery ticket and then you wait with thousands of other great books to see who gets picked. Continue reading →
“The fact that we both have umbrellas and ride the same bus does not reveal some deep kinship between us.” -Book of Snark 3.3.3
I work at a large metropolitan university. Parking on campus during the regular semester is an expensive nightmare at best and impossible at worst. There is staff parking designated at various surface lots and ramps. The monthly cost and length of the waiting list for a spot varies based on its proximity to campus. So, for slightly less money, staff can opt for a monthly unlimited bus pass. I live in the city, not the suburbs, and at times have even gone without owning a car. So, I choose the bus for my commute.
I have laughed at people who expressed concern for my safety over riding the bus. For one thing, this is Minneapolis, not Chicago. And not all buses are the same experience- not the routes or the days or the times of day. If you really want to get a sense of a neighborhood, ride the local bus. See who gets on and how angry they are. The areas of economic depression/ suppression become obvious. But mostly, folks are just trying to get through life and want to be left alone. Continue reading →
If you know me only from my blog or have met me in passing at poetry readings, it may come as a surprise that I have a wicked sense of humor. Afterall, it is a natural antidote for pain and anger. I have decided to give up trying to be a serious literary author and play to my strengths. But more on that later.
Though I write poetry, short stories, and have several unfinished novels, by default I am a blogger. But not a very good one. Oh, the content is good but I lack focus and marketing and followers and blagh blagh blagh. My website isn’t optimized. Isn’t that what they tell us we are supposed to do? FYI: I’m not selling anything so lighten up. This is my own very public, private writing space, with some online lurkers that I know and some that I don’t.
I had to think about it. My original blog was on Blogger.com in 2004: ‘Writing is a Tapeworm’. I am quite sure no one remembers it. It was pre-Face Book and during the height of My Space (they’re still around, did you know?). It served me much the same way my current social media does- random chatter but without the audience. I closed it right around the time I was looking for a new job… cmmounts.com launched in July 2014, died in January 2015, then like a phoenix rose out of the paper shredder in January 2017 with regular posts and visitors ever since. Continue reading →
“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” -St. Augustine
I have been so lucky as to read many, many pages of that book. And it is traveling that now disrupts the regular flow of my blog. It’s a good problem to have. Many people are not able to take time off work to visit family or for pleasure. I know how fortunate I am.
These past months, my writing career (such as it is) has been marked by an upswing in attendance of events, not performance of my own work. Open mics have been replaced with workshops, conferences, performances, and readings. And I have submitted my work for possible publication, I trend I hope to continue with more frequency.
On September 27-29, I attended the 16th annual Power of Words conference at the Casa Franciscan Renewal Center in Scottsdale, Arizona. The conference ran Friday night to Sunday afternoon and though there were accommodations, I stayed in a hotel off-site with a patio by the pool and palm trees. Continue reading →
When I told friends that I would produce this audio blog, this podcast, a lot of people got excited. I have posted my written work on my blog for over two years, but I never recorded any of it. It seems we are in the midst of yet another generation gap. I am generalizing here so please forgive me, but my older friends prefer to read my blog while my younger friends have asked for a podcast. They say they don’t have time to read it, but they can listen on the commute.