Monthly Archives: November 2011

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

It’s been a wild ride for the last few weeks. I’ve been on an emotional rollercoaster, teetering from euphoria to despair, and everything in-between. Sorry I haven’t posted in a while, but my brain’s been on overload.

THE GOOD STUFF:

Sales of Resuscitation, my second novel, have been awesome to say the least. And because of its success, They Never Die Quietly, my first novel, has hitched a ride on Resuscitation’s brisk sales and is delivering respectable sales numbers as well. Shortly after its release on October 11, Resuscitation ranked #1 in Kindle sales in the UK. But last week, I was really knocked for a loop when I received an e-mail from my editor and learned that my second novel hit #1 in the USA for Kindle sales. Although the ranking has steadily declined, as of this morning, it’s still ranked in the top 100. Now bear in mind that Amazon offers over one-million Kindle titles, so to be ranked #1, even for an hour, is amazing.

I am scheduled for two book signings here in San Diego. On Sunday, December 4, I will be signing books at the Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore on Clairemont-Mesa Blvd. On January 8th, I’ll be signing books at Warwick’s Bookstore in La Jolla. I’m both stoked and nervous about these upcoming events. I don’t expect to sign a gazillion books but hope that both signings go well.

THE BAD STUFF:

Anyone who buys an item through Amazon.com can write a review for that product. The review can be for books, electronics, or any number of items. For an author, reader reviews can literally make or break you. Positive reviews promote sales, and negative reviews drive prospective buyers away. No matter how famous or esteemed an author might be, there are generally good and bad reviews—the trick is to have more positive and less negative.

I have been pretty fortunate with both of my books and the good reviews outnumber the not-so-good ones. Although negative reviews hurt, I gain a great deal from objective feedback. A couple years ago when I got my first negative review, I was devastated. I asked a very successful writer friend of mine how he deals with critical reviews. Basically, he advised me to learn from the reviews but not get caught up in them. He further said that under no circumstances should I ever respond to any review—positive or negative.

Recently, one reader in particular wrote a critical, 1-Star review. I totally understood his or her perspective and tried to digest the criticism. Well, a week or so after the reader posted the review, someone posing as me responded to the reader in a most disrespectful way. What this person said was mean-spirited and demeaning. The person who wrote the original review assumed (for good reason) that I wrote the harsh response. I didn’t discover this until a few days later when a bunch of readers got on the bandwagon and expressed their opinions.

I went against my writer friend’s advice and responded to the thread of comments. I explained that I did not, nor would I ever respond to a reader comment in such a rude and discourteous way. I apologized profusely, but could not prove that I did not write the harsh comment. How could I? A few of the readers who commented gave me the benefit of the doubt. But most, unfortunately, didn’t believe me. One person in particular, wrote a very insulting comment and really attacked my integrity. To date, the thread of comments continues.

What occurred to me during this fiasco is that all of us are vulnerable. Our reputations can easily be damaged by some stranger halfway around the world, who, for whatever reason, either has it in for us, or just wants us to be a victim of some random act of cruelty. Anyone could establish a fraudulent account with a web site or open an e-mail account and pose as someone else, and there is absolutely nothing you can do to protect yourself.

I had hoped that more readers who commented on this situation would not be so quick to judge, but sadly, that’s not the case. I didn’t write that shameful comment, but there is no way I can prove it. I now know what it feels like to have your identity stolen. Believe me, it’s a sickly feeling.

 

 

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Literary Revolution

Over the years, I’ve attended both the San Diego State University Writer’s Conference and the Southern California Writers Conference. Like most conferences and conventions, the theme is very specific. These two focus on the world of literature and publishing. It’s a great opportunity for an aspiring writer to hobnob with fellow authors, agents, editors, and publishers. These conferences also offer workshops that cover a wide array of literary-related topics.

One of the events I most enjoyed was the “Read & Critique Workshops”. Picture a group of writers—all high-strung and uptight, desperately wanting to be discovered—huddled in a crowded room. Each author has the opportunity to read passages from their latest effort and the other authors offer constructive feedback. Well, you might think that this is a great idea, but remember that you’re dealing with writers who are very passionate about their books and don’t always accept criticism in the spirit in which it was intended. Tempers do flare and some people storm out the door.

The one thing that always struck me about these Read & Critique Workshops was the number of highly talented writers who were yet unpublished. I used to think to myself, “If these writers can’t find an agent or a publisher, then I’m totally screwed.”

Back then, an author had two ways to get published: #1Find a literary agent willing to represent you (trust me, it’s easier to win the Lottery), and hope and pray that he or she can make a deal with a publisher. #2 Self publish through what were once called “Vanity Presses” (a very expensive proposition), fill your trunk with over-priced books, and try to peddle them to independent bookstores. Those days—thank God— are gone.

The literary landscape today is a completely different world. It has gone through an amazing evolution over the last few years. With the launch of Amazon publishing, currently releasing books under five different imprints, and the growing opportunities for self-publishing and print-on-demand, not to mention the emergent world of e-books, the literary marketplace has experienced some major changes—all for the good. These changes have opened the door for many authors who in the past never got a chance to showcase their work. Many previously undiscovered authors are now in the limelight. This is a long-overdue literary revolution.

I am one of those writers who stumbled upon an amazing opportunity to publish
through Amazon Encore.  Like so many other writers, for years I was an author trying to get published with no success. But now my second thriller novel, RESUSCITATON, released a few weeks ago, was a #1 Kindle bestseller in the UK, and is currently getting reviewed in major newspapers like the San Diego Union Tribune, which said: “Annechino delivers chills and thrills in a skillful manner.” Finally recognized for my writing talent after so many frustrating years is a great feeling.

It took twenty hard years of writing four novels and dealing with a daily diet of rejection to finally get a break. The message here is simple: If writing is your passion, don’t give up the fight. Never forget that rejection is a prerequisite of success.

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Cell Phone Rant

 I know that I’ve walked down this road before, but things have gotten worse, so I can’t keep my mouth shut. Cell phones have always annoyed me—well, let me rephrase that—people using cell phones without an ounce of respect or etiquette or consciousness of the law annoy me. It’s not the technology that troubles me, it’s the irresponsible use. No matter where you go, no matter what you do, cell phones are taking over the world.  And it’s reached the point where people no longer attach their cells to their belts or carry them in their purses. No, everyone holds them in their hands as if they were waiting for the results of a biopsy.

Why is it so damned urgent to keep in touch with friends and families 24/7?  Do we all need to know every little detail of their lives as if it was a matter of life and death? And what’s even more annoying than talking nonsense on cell phones is my all-time favorite activity: Text messaging. Whoever invented this ought to be tarred and feathered.

Wouldn’t it be nice to pull an envelope out of your mailbox, tear it open, and find a handwritten letter from a close friend or relative? Can you even remember the last time you received a personal letter? Text messaging and talking on cell phones have removed the intimacy from our communications. Even though we can literally reach anyone at anytime, there seems to be a great distance between people.

In the state of California, it is illegal to talk on a cell phone while driving, unless through a hands-free device, and it’s illegal to text under any circumstances. In spite of this, you can stand on any busy street corner in CA and watch dozens of drivers pressing a cell phone to their ears and just as many with their heads down, texting. And where are the cops? Want to stop this insanity? Make the law more severe. Right now, the fine for illegal use of a cell phone is $20 for the first offense and $50 for subsequent convictions. Are you kidding me? How about $500 for the first offense and a suspended license for the second offense?

Statistically, it is documented that a growing number of auto accidents can be directly attributed to cell phone use or texting. And in many cases, people have been killed. My wife has a great solution to this growing problem. All auto manufacturers should be required to install an electronic device on all motor vehicles that blocks any cell phone signal while the engine is running. I think this is a great idea! Yes, I know, big brother already lives in our back pockets, but if we have to forfeit some of our rights to save lives, so be it. I’m on-board.

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