Monthly Archives: June 2011

The Business of Writing

I don’t know about you, but I hate to wait for anything—particularly  things that are significant. My second novel, Resuscitation, is scheduled to be  released on October 11. Before it’s launched, a number of things have to take place to ensure that this book has the best possible chance for success. Marketing and promotion are crucial.

It’s a crowded marketplace out there and thousands of authors are trying to make their mark competing for new readers. Unless an author has an established following or his or her book creates a real buzz, great books often vanish to obscurity. What frustrates me most is the fact that the literary value of a book seems to take a backseat to effective marketing. Selling the “sizzle” is more important than the quality of the “steak.” This is not only true in the literary world, but applies to just about every product or service on the planet. Strategic marketing can make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.

So, for an author to be successful, he or she needs to be more than a writer. You must market your little butt off, networking through social websites like Twitter and Facebook. You must send out hundreds of advanced reader copies to reviewers. You must maintain a website/blog that’s interesting and keeps readers coming back. You must try to coordinate book signings and interviews and make yourself as visible as possible. Authors today are 50% writer and 50% PR person.

To be honest, I hate the marketing part of writing. I wish I could just sit comfortably in front of my computer and create. But unless your name is Stephen King or J.K. Rowling, you just don’t have that luxury. Okay. Enough complaining. Time for me to make my daily splash on Facebook.

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Rope-a-Dope

I was clicking through the channels the other night and stumbled upon the Republican Presidential debate on CNN. Curious to hear what the conservative politicians had to say about how they would “fix” the country, I choked back the bile and watched the debate until I reached the point that I just couldn’t bear it any longer for fear I’d puke.

Now before you start calling me a liberal or lefty, keep in mind that for the most part, I feel that the Democrats are equally as nauseating. As far as I’m concerned—and I’ve expressed this many times in the past—of the 535 members of Congress, about 10 are worth their salt.

What pisses me off more than anything is how—when asked a direct question— politicians dance around the answer and talk in textbook rhetoric. I call it the Rope-a-Dope. Remember when Mohammad Ali was in his prime? He used to lie on the ropes with his gloves covering his face and forearms protecting his upper body while his opponent punched himself silly trying to break through Ali’s defense. He avoided punches—just like politicians avoid giving direct answers—by using the Rope-a-Dope.

When CNN Senior Correspondent, John King or someone from the audience asked a direct question, the candidates would lie on the ropes and weave from side to side avoiding the questions just like Ali avoided punches. Hence, the Rope-a-Dope.

I’m not a politician, nor will I ever run for office. But I’d bet that I could stand toe-to-toe with nearly any presidential candidate and employ the Rope-a-Dope as good as any of them. I, too, can regurgitate bullshit. Go ahead, ask me how I plan to restore America. Here’s my answer:

“Job one is to address unemployment. We need to create jobs and put people back to work. Next, we need to stabilize the economy and increase our Gross National Product by stimulating the private sector. Our massive deficit simply cannot continue. We need to implement programs that will promote economic growth and turn the deficit into a surplus. Next we need to overhaul Medicare and Social Security. These two programs simply do not work and in a few years they will be bankrupt. We need to be more competitive in the global markets and restore the respect we once enjoyed as the most stable economy in the world. We have to focus on creating smaller government. And to spark the economy we need to cut taxes. If elected president, I will work tirelessly to accomplish these goals.”

I said so much yet said nothing–just like a politician. Are you going to vote for me?

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A Simple Plan

Sorry that I haven’t updated my blog recently, but I’ve been in NY for the last 2 ½ weeks attending a Book Expo and spending time with my family in Upstate NY.

 Although I wasn’t able to maintain my normal workout regimen while in NY (45 minutes cardio and 15 minutes on upper body machines), I did manage to take some long, brisk walks. My favorite place to walk was around a trail that circles North Ponds Park in Webster, NY (a suburb of Rochester). The path is a mile long and depending on how I felt I would do 2 to 4 miles. I noticed something interesting as I passed people on the path: Nearly everyone I encountered said, “Good morning,” or “Hello,” or “Have a good day,” or some other friendly greeting.

 Now you might not think that this behavior is out of the ordinary; after all, greeting people is merely an act of courtesy. But in contrast to what I’ve experienced living in San Diego since 1993, frankly, I was stunned. I may not represent the average resident of San Diego, but my experience while walking anywhere and passing people is that no one even makes eye contact let alone greets you. Everyone seems so guarded. It’s as if they are suspicious that a smile or greeting comes with an ulterior motive.

 This got me thinking about the world in general—the hostility, the lack of courtesy, the inability to offer a gesture of friendliness. What happens in Saint Louis, Rome, Dallas, or London, when people pass each other on the streets? In some cities, of course, people do generally greet each other. But I feel reasonably sure that in most instances, people worldwide act the way they do in San Diego. We all live within our comfort zones, shielding ourselves from the rest of the world. What can we do to change this situation?

 For one, each of us can take the lead and take it upon ourselves to greet everyone we pass with a smile and a hello. Not just when we’re jogging around a park or riding along a bike path. I’m talking about passing people in a shopping mall, parking lot, grocery store, or movie theater. How much might it impact the entire world if everyone greeted everyone else?

 I, for one, am going to conduct a little experiment starting today. I’m making a commitment to greet everyone I pass in some friendly way. And who knows. Maybe this behavior might be contagious. If enough people adopted this philosophy, imagine the possible impact on the world.

 

 

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