The End - Coming in March. The LaGrange Legacy

The End - Coming in March. The LaGrange Legacy
Available at CreateSpace and Amazon

Monday, May 30, 2011

Remembering

Some of my ancestors I'm remembering this Memorial Day:

Martin Mueller, my 2Great Grandfather, born 1828 in Westphalia, Germany. Died March 1864 in the Western Theater of the Civil War. My Great Grandmother Fredericka was born a month later.

Irwin Frank Ignatius Schindler, my Great Uncle: US Marines, died in France 1 November 1918.

Otto S. LaGrange, my maternal Grandfather: WW I.

Irvin H. Schindler, my Dad: US Army Air Corps, WW II.

Kenneth Otto LaGrange, my Uncle: Merrill's Marauders, Burma (WW II)

I'm also thinking about all of the rapidly diminishing number of brothers from Vietnam, as well as the warriors standing tall around the world.

A salute for all of you.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Back on the Roller Coaster

Today, I got "The LaGrange Legacy" on Smashwords. It certainly seems like a positive step, but time will tell.

In addition, some folks showed up with advice in hand. I suspect that in some cases, the advice has more to do with how to remove money from my pocket, and place it in their hand. Others, themselves Indie authors, seem to have sensible things to say. Mostly, they're saying to keep plugging along, and develop such contacts as may be possible.

As much as anything, this blog is apparently about my little roller coaster ride between utter depression and the slightest glimmer of hope. It would be nice if the hope came a little stronger and a bit more frequently.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Canned Lettuce

In trying to think of why my novel isn't selling, I considered that it is one title out of something like 9 million on Amazon. The fact that it's not number 9 million says something about the majority of titles, and since mine drops something like 100,000 spots each day, there's not much other than novelty separating my title from everyone else's.

Last night, I considered a comparison. What if you saw a product, canned lettuce, in your market. This strange product (actually, there is canned pickled lettuce used in Thai cooking, but we'll just use the analogy for now) is there on the grocery shelf, made by a completely unknown (to you) company.

Would you buy it? You don't know the contents or the producer. The answer is 'not likely,' obviously. The exception being if your Thai recipe called for it.

So, there's my lonesome little title in the midst of its nine million peers. It has unknown content, by an unknown person. Until and unless somebody has the literary equivalent of a Thai recipe calling for it, otherwise known as a high-level positive review, who would take the chance?

There are reviewers who will do it, requiring $100 and up (mostly up). CreateSpace offers connections to such reviews for around $500. The opportunities to increase expenses are truly amazing. It looks like the internet marketplace isn't working to my advantage. Evidently, I'll just have to take my books around and knock on doors. If I knock on yours, please be kind.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Writer or Author?

With articles and a few stories in print, together with a couple of novels in the drawer, I considered myself a writer. Technically, given that my "by line" was attached to them, I was also an author. Still, there is something about having a novel published that seemed quite apart from what I had already done.

My latest novel didn't stay in the drawer. I dedicated it to my Mom, who is now in a nursing home, and in slowly declining health. I wanted to present to her personally, rather than have it be a memorial. So, I choked back the lump in my throat and went for some professional assistance in typography and cover design. A thousand dollars later, there was my book, available for the whole world to read.

It doesn't seem the world is terribly interested. My research indicates the "average" volume for an Indie offering is 15. I've managed that, but only because of personally selling 6. Amazon accounts for an astonishing three copies. The Kindle version has done two.

My conclusion from all this is that I am a writer, a scribbler of words. An author is still beyond my grasp, since my personal definition of an author necessarily includes readers.

So, I'll likely continue to fill computer memory and drawers with my personal graffiti, but my expectations of reaching any eyes other than my own, decreases each time the sun rises.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Last Tuesday, I was interviewed on our local TV station. Watching it later at home, my first reaction was "Who is that???" To giver the interviewers credit, with absolutely no background on the book or me, they managed to give me every opportunity to put my novel in the most positive light possible. Many thanks to the good folks at Nebraska TV.

Stumbling out of the station, knowing I really need to drop some pounds and inches if I'm ever to do that again, my wife and I immediately proceeded to breakfast. So much for those good intentions. Afterward, I did succeed in placing copies of the book with the Hastings Bookstore in Kearney on consignment. It appears their system recognized it as being in print, but was unable to order right then.

Friday was my presentation, book dedication, and book signing. There were about fifteen people there, plus the local weekly newspaper. The presentation was well-received, and some people bought the book. Checking mail when we got back home, there was a check from one of the local libraries. All of this is rather surprising. At this point, direct sales have resulted in more sales than any other approach, not to mention more profit.

In total sales, CreateSpace (my publisher) has a direct sales link ranks behind direct sales. Amazon sales of the softback edition are third. Finally, there's the Kindle edition. My research seemed to indicate sales would be exactly the reverse of what I'm seeing. Presumably, the situation will change over time. A very wise man reminded me this morning that patience is needed. He's right of course. I need that patience now!

More advise from that same wise man, Claude Bouchard by name, is to look at expanding the eBook formats available via Smashwords. I'm looking into that possibility, and have downloaded their eBook, The Smashwords Style Guide, by Mark Coker. We'll see how it goes.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

A Big Week Coming for The LaGrange Legacy

Tuesday, I go on local TV promoting The LaGrange Legacy. Friday is my official dedication and presentation. The two local newspapers tell me they'll be there. It feels like things are looking up.

Speaking of things looking up, there are now two reviews on Amazon, both giving the book five stars. There's also a great review on Barnes & Noble.

Thoughts of the book are now inextricably related to the number of readers. Telling myself that my worth is not related to books sold seems logical. It appears, however, that my claims of being a rational creature only lasted until that ego-creature showed up. So there's nothing for it but to get my smiling face in front of TV cameras (I hope the lenses don't break) and potential readership, and see if I can sell my first-born novel.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Waiting for Inspiration

What is there to do, waiting for that spark of inspiration needed to fire up a story? Tradition would dictate a glazed look vaguely in the direction of a blank sheet of paper emerging from a typewriter. A blank page on a computer screen works well, although it lacks that drama made famous in "The Shining."

Then there's rearranging (as opposed to organizing). There is no end to the miscellaneous tasks, also known as The To-Do List. The benefit here is in the feeling of accomplishment, not to mention maybe a certain amount of righteousness when items, however trivial, get checked off the list. Somewhat more guilt-inducing are the social networking sites, although networking is how to get that novel sold. So maybe social networking is a good thing between those sparks of inspiration. These, of course, are simply ways of occupying our appropriate free time until the muses see fit to come visit.

On the other hand, there is a heretical, contrarian school of thought claiming that inspiration is not first, followed by a huge amount of frenzied writing, accompanied by red eyes and drooling lips. They say the writing comes first, in a disciplined and focused fashion, and that inspiration comes as a result of this applied effort. Oh, say it isn't so!