A Long Overdue Update

Good Morning, Afternoon, Evening or night, everyone. I know that it’s been a while and I hope that my absence hasn’t soured you on me or my writing. ‘Course, I haven’t been doing much writing lately. To recap? I started a new job back in early December of 2013 and have been focused primarily on that since. I’ve wanted to write… have even started a blog entry or two since, but nothing has made it past “draft” stage.

The situation with CHILDREN OF ENDWORLD is, unfortunately, a similar one. That book remains 280 or so pages to the good. I have about 100 or so left to write and hope to be doing so again in the very near future. But first, I need to read and revise what I’ve written. I’m relatively confident that the story is still “there” (and by “there,” I mean here in my head as I’m typing with Pink Floyd playing over my headphones, “The Voice” on the TV in front of me and my beloved wife Nicole sitting beside me). I just need to revisit what I’ve already composed. I’ve learned over the last however many years that I’ve been writing that consistency is the key. It needs to flow. Hopefully I’m through the first 280 plus and banging out the last 100 soon. I’ll be sure to let y’all know!

This isn’t going to be a long entry. I honestly don’t have a lot to report outside of what I just mentioned. But I would like to take a moment and bring you up to speed on the few, minor things that I have done since I last “stopped” by my website. So…

  • Pre-Christmas, I lowered the eBook price of ENDWORLD – A NOVEL from $3.99 to $1.99. I was only going to do this over the holidays, but New Year’s rolled around, I thought about it a bit and decided to leave it. As I’ve said on numerous occasions, this process–writing and publishing–has never been about money for me. It’s about creating something lasting that people, I hope, enjoy. So if a $1.99 price point makes the eBook more affordable to more people? So be it. I will keep it as such moving forward. That said, if you haven’t read it yet and you’re thinking about doing so, now’s a great time to pick it up! Check it out on Amazon for your Kindle, at Barnes and Noble (dot com) for your Nook, in the iBookstore for your iPad or iPhone… or just go to the “Where to Buy ENDWORLD – A NOVEL” tab of this website. And if you read it and loved it, recommend it to your friends, family, associates… whoever! In addition…
  • If you read and loved ENDWORLD – A NOVEL… heck, if you just liked it a lot or maybe just a little, please let me know about it. It’s been sitting at eight reviews on Amazon, two reviews on Barnes and Noble and a handful of reviews on Goodreads for as long as I can remember. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: I’m very confident in what I wrote. I think it’s a good story (albeit a bit long in the tooth as one or two people have told me) and most everyone that I’ve spoken with feels the same. But the only way it’ll ever be recognized as more than just some random guy’s vain attempt at self-publication is if it gets exposure. And it’ll only get that with more reviews. So please… please post your thoughts on it where others can see them. And my earlier offer of one free eCopy for a review stands. If you want to take me up on it, comment here, email me (madchronicler@verizon.net), message me on FB (https://www.facebook.com/frankmarshauthor), “Tweet” me on Twitter (https://twitter.com/fmarshauthor), or just go to the “About Frank Marsh” tab of this website. You’ll see a whole myriad of ways that you can drop me a line. Thanks!

Ladies and gentlemen? Friends, Romans, countrymen and women? That’s all I’ve got to say tonight! Work comes early and I’ve got a few other things that I need to do before I tag and bag my day. Let me take a brief moment and thank you all again for your ongoing support of me and my writing. I can’t tell you how much it means to me that even now, almost a year after I first published ENDWORLD – A NOVEL, people are still buying it. I’ll not lie: It’s a total rush to look at my rankings on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other sites and occasionally see a spike in sales. I look forward to bringing you it’s sequel in the near future. Perhaps not as “near” as I originally envisioned, but I promise it won’t be 19 years.

CHILDREN OF ENDWORLD is coming. I vow it. And one thing that you should know about me? I keep my promises.

G’Night, all!

F.

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Another “Quick Hit”

Every so often, you need to take a break. Take me: I’ve been writing pretty much non-stop in some way, shape or form for the last couple of years. It’s not that I mind… I don’t but it’s a lot. It’s a tough pace to keep up especially when you’re trying to balance it with two full time jobs–one that pays the bills and one, parenthood, that doesn’t. So last Friday night–at the same time that I completed page 263, Part Three of Children of Endworld–I decided to take a break. Not a long one: Maybe a week or two. However long it takes me to go back, read and revise what I’ve written and read Doctor Sleep by Stephen King which… unless something changes… should be sitting on my Kindle Fire when I wake up tomorrow morning. A sequel to The Shining? Yes, please. I promise to post a review either here, or over on “Random Musings” when I’m done.

Generally when I finish working on something I do a post-mortem on it. I’m not going to do that now on Children because… well, because I’m not done writing it yet, though I expect that the last 150-175 pages or so are going to be a lot easier to write then the last 100 were. I’e been actively working on the sequel to ENDWORLD – A Novel since mid-May, 2013. It is now late September of the same and I’ve written more in the last four months plus than I think I’ve ever written before. Not just Children but other stuff, as well, namely things like THIS and the things I’ve posted over on my personal blog. The last 100 pages ate up the two months and the plus of that time. It needed to for if it doesn’t work, then the entire series falls flat on its face before I even make it to Book Three which is, I’ll not lie, the one I am looking MOST forward to writing. So I took a lot of care with it. As for whether or not that care pays off? I leave that for you to decide. Coming soon. Stay tuned.

All that said, this really isn’t anything but a “Quick Hit,” i.e. a couple of brief bullet points that I feel the need to address, explain… whatever it is that I do when I’m not wiping butts or scraping hydraulic fluid out from underneath my fingernails (not in that order). So here goes:

  1. ENDWORLD – A Novel is still in need of reviews. It’s up to eight on Amazon (4.5 star average), two on Barnes and Noble (five star average) and three on Goodreads (also a five star average). I’ve got a couple in the can that I’m waiting for (if if you’re reading this right now you know who you are). Remember: 10 on Amazon is the proverbial point of critical demarcation, i.e. the point where the “powers that be” say, “Oh SNAP! This book has 10 reviews and they’re overwhelmingly positive. Lets give it a bump.” But it’s not just Amazon. Many third party reviewers won’t even look at your book unless it has 10 reviews/at least a four star average on Amazon. Please: If you read ENDWORLD and you liked it, take a minute or two to publish a review of it. Feel free to do so if you didn’t like it, too, though realistically? If you read it and hated it, you probably wouldn’t be reading this, right now. And if you hated it and you are? Darn, dude. You’re a glutton for punishment. And if you’re still interested in my open-ended deal–one e-copy for one review–let me know. I’d be happy to oblige.
  2. Children of Endworld is going to need Beta readers really, really soon as in within the next couple of months. A few people have already approached me and asked for a copy when I’m finished and those people get first dibs. But I generally like to have between 10 and 12 people reading and submitting feedback at a time. Those people need to have a sense of humor, as well, since generally, the Beta copy is not the final copy, i.e. it’s rough, and oft times sloppy though I pride myself on cleaning it up pre-handing it out. If you’re interested in being a Beta reader for Children please, let me know either here or via one of the ways given under the “About Frank Marsh” tab. I’ll put you on the list.
  3. Sometime between now and when I finally “go live” with Children–still looking at mid-2014–I will be publishing something else. My “secret” project that I’ve referenced but not given any details on. One or two people know about it and that’s as far as it’s going to go. All I will tell you, presently, is that it is both separate AND a part of The Endworld Series.  As for what that means? That’s the mystery that I look forward to unraveling for you in the near future. I’d love to do some sort of J J Abrams viral campaign for it but I don’t have the time or the resources to do so. Plus, I don’t know that people are as eagerly anticipatory of my secret project as they are of Star Wars Episode Seven. I wouldn’t ask them to be. Hell, I’m more ciked for Episode Seven than I am for it. But it’s going to be fun. I promise. Once I’m done Children I’m going to start prep’ing it. More to follow.
  4. So as to make your experiences both here and over on “Random Musings” more flawless (i.e. me, not cross-referencing one on the other and Hyper-linking/making you page between the two), I’ve started working on a new all-inclusive website. It’s not published yet so there’s no URL to give out but when it’s done? I promise that y’all here and over on my personal blog will be the first ones to know.
  5. This one is p’urty darned important (hence the BOLD print): I am taking the advice of a few of my contemporaries and altering my Twitter handle. Ever since I first joined the Twitterverse I have been “@madchronicler97.” While I’m always leery of change I understand that now that I’m… well, pseudo-public I need to be easier to find. My new, official Twitter handle moving forward is “@fmarshauthor” (linked for your convenience) and hopefully by the time I’m done today, that’s the one that’ll be on everything that bears my name and resemblance.  

And that’s pretty much it. Like I said, this is little more than a “Quick Hit.” I’d like to take a moment to thank those of you that continue to support me in this slightly insane undertaking of mine. I say this a lot but I feel like I need to say it again: All that I’ve achieved over the last year would not be possible were it not for the assistance of everyone from my wife, Nicole–who remains my biggest fan and free publicist–to my little ladies Cara and Natalie who… for the most part… sleep while daddy’s writing (though they don’t always sleep when I’m not). Furthermore to all my friends, family and contemporaries who continue to listen to me drone on and on about The Endworld Series and my every-evolving idea for William MacNuff’s universe despite the fact that they’ve been dealing with it and me for, in many cases, 20 years now. Yes, that’s right: It has now been 20 years since I started the first draft of what was then called just Endworld (I began it in August of 1993, as many of you already know whilst working in the dusky basement of a college). Back then the mere notion of actually publishing something other than an editorial in my school newspaper was, to me, completely “out there.” Not so much any longer. I’ve got to tell you: The reality is so. Much. Sweeter.

Happy reading, everyone. If you haven’t done so yet, make sure you pre-order your copy of Doctor Sleep, the long-awaited sequel to one of my all time favorite books The Shining. Not that Stephen King needs my help but the least I can do is give him a shout-out since he is one of, if not the main reason why I started writing in the first place. And stay tuned for more as I get closer and closer to being done the next book in The Endworld Series…

The first book of which, ENDWORLD – A Novel is available NOW in either e-copy or paperback at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and any number of other outlets. Links to buy under the “Where to Buy” tab on this website. Looking for a good, autumn read? Grab a steaming cup of hot apple cider and a slice of pumpkin pie, curl up under a blanket or two by the fire and give it a look. Take care!

F,

An Update on CHILDREN OF ENDWORLD and My First Author Interview

Hello, everyone. I know that it’s been a while since I last posted an update here on the ENDWORLD site (though “Random Musings” has been pretty hopping these last couple of weeks; cruise on over and check it out if you don’t believe me). This one isn’t going to be a long one. I just wanted to drop by real quick, and let you know what I’ve been up to in case you’re curious.

First, a CHILDREN update. CHILDREN OF ENDWORLD just broke the 150 page mark, typed today, and is by my best reckoning a shade under half done. Understand that when I say “half done” I don’t mean that it’s only going to be 300 pages long. It’s not. I expect that it’ll be at least as long as ENDWORLD was, perhaps longer (the final draft of ENDWORLD clocked in at 412 pages typed). But Parts One and Two are both done, and I’ve only planned four parts. Henceforth my “half done” comment. Section-wise, it is. Story-wise, it’s about 40% complete.

I’ll not lie to you: A lot has happened already in the narrative and a lot more is poised to happen. CHILDREN is, believe it or not, a  meatier story than its predecessor. I’ve a lot to tell to set up the third and final book in THE ENDWORLD SERIES and in order to keep it moving, I’ve really shored it up. I have to. If I don’t, it’s going to balloon into a 1000 page epic a la Robert Jordan’s WINTER’S HEART, filled with pages upon pages of description and very little action. I love description (in case you can’t tell), but I also love reading, and I know as an avid reader that nothing takes you out of a story quicker than over-describing something. I’ll concede that there’s a good deal of that in ENDWORLD. But in CHILDREN? I’ve gone to great pains to eliminate it.

I should tell you that I feel a great deal more confident about this book, likely because I’m no longer a self-publishing virgin. I’ve gotten my feet wet: I’ve listened to a handful of critiques and praises. I’ve re-read ENDWORLD with all in mind and I see where it fails, and where it succeeds. In short? ENDWORLD is most certainly a Freshman Novel. CHILDREN is more refined. Is it better? I think that remains to be seen. The sheer emotion that went into ENDWORLD, coupled with the fact that it’s the first book that I ever published will always keep it at the height of my esteem. But structurally, I do think CHILDREN is better. IMO, of course. I honestly don’t know. It remains a mystery, and will until such time as I finish it, get copies into the hands of my Beta Readers and get their feedback. Stay tuned.

But enough about CHILDREN. I don’t want to ruminate on it, I just want to write it. Onto other things. Actually, really just one other thing. I have a few other things potentially in the pipeline, but I don’t want to write about them, now. I need to wait and see how they pan out, first. I promise you that when they do, though, you reading this will be among the first to know.

This week, I am being featured in an author interview spot on Ryan Schneider’s website (www.ryanschneiderauthor.com). “10 Questions with Science Fiction Writer Frank Marsh.” If you’re interested in checking it out, you can link it HERE. This is actually my first official author interview, and I’m grateful to Ryan for choosing to feature me and my feelings on the Oxford Comma (among other things; I promise it’s not an interview on Phonics; the questions are actually pretty nifty). Check it out if you have a few moments. And check out his latest novel EYE CANDY, available exclusively via Amazon.com! Now available in e-format and in paperback! It’s good. And I’m not just saying that because he’s doing me a solid. It is a damn fine book. Trust me. You won’t be disappointed.

And that’s all she err… he, as in me… I wrote. I guess. Back to William’s story. If you haven’t yet picked up a copy of ENDWORLD – A Novel I urge you to do so. Don’t wait for me to finish CHILDREN OF ENDWORLD. I promise I’ll be done it soon enough. Scout’s honor: I’m not going to George R R Martin you. Publication next Spring is looking mighty feasible right about now, God willing. Check out the “Where to Buy” tab on this website for links to where it’s available. Read it, enjoy it, review it (I can’t stress that enough; reviews = legitimacy) and experience the book that people are calling “a good meaty book for summer reading,” “five stars in my log,” “well written and captivating,” “it really draws you in” and ” from the end of chapter one was hooked, and had a hard time putting it down every night to go to sleep.” What are you waiting for?

Happy reading, everyone.

F.

Book Review: EYE CANDY By Ryan Schneider

EyeCandyDigital

“It’s because in my book, I say that robots as a species, albeit a new one, are as valuable as humans. I also say that robots, as a species, again, albeit a new species, are invested with great, inner power. Like all such groups, they must be watched, kept in check, and if necessary, actively restrained in their quest for advancement.” 

Excerpt from Eye Candy by Ryan Schneider

So technically this site is not a book review site. But like most writers/authors, traditionally published, self published or not published at all, I read a lot. I used to read a lot more than I do nowadays, but the whole writing my own book (or books) thing has robbed me of much of my once-precious “free time.” But I still do read. To a lesser extent. And I’ve been advertising this book on both this site and over on “Random Musings of a Pseudo-Madman Version 2.0” for over a month. I just finished it last night and I feel obligated to post a review of it on here. Why? Because there’s more out there than just ENDWORLD – A Novel. There are other authors, “indie” or otherwise, that are writing and publishing quality material every day. Eye Candy is no exception. Plus, Ryan’s been a big help to me over the last month plus. The least I can do is tell you, my followers how much I enjoyed his most recent novel.

I’m new to Ryan’s writing. Pre-Eye Candy, I’d only ever read one of his books (A Shadow Passed Over the Son, the first book in the Go-Kids Series; book two is next on my “to read” list).  Despite a basic familiarity with his work, I knew before I started reading it that I was in for something different. The Go-Kids Series is YA (“Young Adult”), and Eye Candy was billed as Ryan’s first post-YA novel. So it was, for lack of a better term, a literary anomaly. Well? It’s an anomaly no more. I finished it late last night/early this morning and my rating? Five Stars. I loved it. Here’s why (portions of this review culled from my Amazon and Goodreads reviews):

Generally the phrase “refreshingly traditional” is an oxymoron. Most things that are traditional are not refreshing, i.e. they’ve been overdone. Such is not the case with Eye Candy, which works as a highly effective extension of the future first envisioned by Issac Asimov in his Robot Series. Yes, Asimov. I went there. As many of you who know me know I heart Asimov. His Foundation Series was one of the main influences of my own writing. I’ve always considered my robots, i.e. the robots of ENDWORLD – A Novel a hybrid of the Terminator and R Daneel Olivaw (one of the main protagonists in not just the Foundation Series, but in his Robot Series, as well. See HERE). The world portrayed by Ryan in Eye Candy is a logical “next step” in the evolution of not just R Daneel, but the literary robot. In his world, the Three Laws of Robotics exist and are still adhered to, but robots are becoming more and more human-like with each, passing day. In case you don’t know what Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics are, they are:

  1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  2. A robot must obey the orders given to it by human beings, except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.

They’re incredibly important to the plot of Eye Candy, so if you’ve never read Asimov and you’re going to pick this novel up on my recommendation, the least I can do is give you a primer. Anywhos, I don’t want to give away any spoilers. I’ll just say that the proverbial line between “real” and “not real” is very thin, and you, the reader, will be left pondering that very question, even after a handful of twists and turns and a firm resolution that I, admittedly, didn’t see coming. I heart twists and turns almost as much as I heart Asimov. Kudos for keeping me guessing until the end, Ryan.

Eye Candy is more than just a story about robots, though. It has a message. And while it’s not overly laden with philosophical and spiritual themes, i.e. it’s not preachy (as much as I heart Asimov he did get preachy from time to time; not “Planet of the Apes” preachy, but semi-so), there’s just enough in the dialogue between the primary characters–characters like Danny Olivaw (nice shout out), Candace “Candy” Calvin and the myriad of other characters that populate Schneider’s futuristic LA–to keep the closet academic in me thinking. As for what that message is? In the words of Professor River Song, “spoilers.” I’m not going to give you any. But I promise that the message does not detract in the slightest from the story. The plot is well-developed and moves at a brisk pace, even for a 450 plus page, freestanding novel. And the culmination of that plot? Wow. If you like action, you’re really going to like the last 15-20% of the novel. Prepare to be dazzled. I was. I believe in the credo that “no amount of blowing sh*t up is too much.” Apparently, Ryan does, too.

Like I said before, I’d only ever read one of Ryan’s books pre-reading Eye Candy, but I’m pretty sure that I’ve fairly “gotten” his writing style. It is succinct and too the point without sacrificing description, and his reliance on dialogue to drive his story is very Asmiov-ian without being an overt rip-off of Asimov. In short? Eye Candy maintains a stamp that is distinctly his. I highly recommend it to the 18+ crowd. Ryan has made his bones as a YA author, but Eye Candy is not for that demographic. It stands as an incredibly strong foray into post-YA Sci-Fi. Interested? Grab your copy TODAY. Link to buy it HERE. And while you’re at it, be sure to check out his website HERE (www.authorryanschneider.com).

That’s all I’ve got, guys. Have a great day. Happy reading.

F.

Of Offers, Reviews and the Problem with Sequels

“I’ve been here before.

“You may remember me from the past if such a concept can and does exist here in Endworld. Past, present and future? All are meaningless in a place where we humans live from sunrise to sunset. Time, as I have mentioned incessantly, has no significance here. It never has…

“And it never will.”

Excerpt from the Prologue to CHILDREN OF ENDWORLD, “Full Circle”

So begins (with a couple of sentences omitted so as to not give anything away to those of you that haven’t finished ENDWORLD – A Novel yet) the sequel to what one person called my “Freshman novel debut.” The book is entitled CHILDREN OF ENDWORLD and it is 34 pages to the good, presently. Admittedly? I’m very happy with what I’ve written so far, but 34 pages is nothing. I’ve still got a long way to go. As I’ve said before, perhaps as incessantly as William MacNuff refers to time or the absence thereof in Endworld, what I think of it doesn’t matter. What matters is what you, my readers think of it. And the finished product is still a ways off. Not too long, though. Something tells me that when I 100% commit to writing it it’ll consume my mind, body and soul like it’s predecessor did. It’s tough to say when it’ll be done and be available, but optimally? I’d love to have it done and out by this time, next year. I like May. May’s a good month for book releases. So tentatively? May, 2014. That’s my goal. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, the best I can definitively offer you is a blog entry here/over on Random Musings, or an update like this one. I’ve been toying with putting a completion graph up on the “About THE ENDWORLD SERIES” tab but have decided not to. You don’t need to see that (though I ate up Brandon Sanderson’s while he was working on The Wheel of Time Series). I’m sure I’ll write about it plenty between now and then. Besides, trying to put a percentage on “doneness” when it comes to writing a novel is, I have discovered, no easy task. Even if I use the first book’s page count and my treatment as a baseline. I guesstimate that by the time I’m done, CHILDREN will be as long as, if not longer than ENDWORLD was. Is. Sometimes, Tense really messes with me.

I’m quickly discovering that the problem with a sequel–even one that I originally wrote X-amount of years ago and am now rewriting–isn’t getting back into the minds of my characters. If you love your characters like I love mine, continuing their story is not a problem. If anything, it’s intoxicating. It’s not the writing process, either: I can already see a “Sophomore” maturity in CHILDREN that ENDWORLD doesn’t have.  The problem with writing a direct sequel (not a three-quel, a four-quel, et el) so soon after you published the first book is this: THE ENDWORLD SERIES is not an established commodity, yet. I still have no bleepin’ idea what people think of it.

That’s not an implication of anyone. It’s a long book, and it’s only been out for a few weeks. I know how difficult it is nowadays to sit down and commit to just reading. Unless I’m on a vacation somewhere the majority of my reading is done post-10 PM at night and pre-passing out between 11 and 11:30 PM, a fact that my wife is graciously accepting of. Or so she tells me. I know reviews are forthcoming (for better or for worse, though most people that I’ve talked to really appear to be enjoying it) and I know that the book has sold modestly and to my initial expectations. But a big part of my motivation for writing not only it, but anything has always been interest. Not just my interest, but the interest of my potential readers. That said…

Are those readers–you–happy with ENDWORLD – A Novel? Is it fulfilling your expectations? Exceeding them? Falling short? I’m dying to know. Even if you’re still reading it, are you on-board with William, Maria and their adventure or are you jumping ship? Be bluntly honest with me, guys. My ego = A non-entity here. If you don’t want to do it publicly, please do it privately. See the “About Me” section of this site. You can contact me any of those ways. I promise I’ll get it.

The public version of ENDWORLD – A Novel will be three weeks old this Saturday. The private version has existed for much, much longer as those of you that know me and have been following me know. So far, this is a sampling of what I know people think about it:

“This book is a wonderfully written coming of age story about William and Maria’s journey from a machine controlled life. Their journey has many twists and turns. It is an exciting story! A must read!!!”

“Started reading this book the other day at the recommendation of a friend. So far, I’m really enjoying the book! I can’t wait to see what happens next.”

“In his freshman novel debut (at least to my knowledge) Frank has a superbly written & compelling novel. At the end of two chapters I was completely sucked in & have a hard time putting it down every night to go to bed. I can’t wait to see how it ends!” 

I’d like to thank the people that published those reviews (one on Barnes and Noble and two on Goodreads), as well as those of you that have given me generally positive feedback in other ways (on the phone, via DM, via Facebook, Twitter et al). I haven’t heard “it sucks” once and that, for me, is an epic win. That’s not to say that someone, somewhere isn’t reading it right now and thinking that. Believe it or not? If that person is reading this right now, I want to hear from you. I need to. Again, my ego = A non-entity. Publicly or privately, get in touch with me and let me know. I promise that I’ll do everything in my power to explain either A.) What I was thinking or B.) How I’m going to “fix” it moving forward.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: Reviews = Visibility. And viability. No one wants to read something that their next door neighbor says is good. They want to see a sampling of people that feel the same way before they spend their hard earned money on it. Over the past couple of days, I’ve been soliciting reviews from book review sites ranging from the big–circulating, national newspapers–to the small–bloggers that will give you their honest impressions in exchange for a free copy. I’ve not yet tapped the “Big Boys” like Publisher’s Weekly, Kirkus Reviews et al, though I did send an inquiry to the American Book Review. So far, the responses to my inquiries have been… timid, and by “timid” I mean “borderline non-existent.” So while I’m not putting those requests in the can and will continue to pursue them, I’m shifting my strategy slightly. To?

To this. Here’s what I’d like to do. Scratch that: Here’s what I’m going to do. I’d like to offer a free copy of ENDWORLD – A NOVEL (yes, I said “free”) to five people in exchange for an honest review. Those five people will be the first five people that either A.) Comment on this blog post, B.) Comment on my Facebook Author Page once I share this or C.) “Tweet” me once I Tweet this. Notice that the words “comment” and “‘tweet'” are in bold. That’s because “likes” don’t count (sorry, “likers.” You can still “like” all of the above but leave a comment. Even “hi” works). The only condition? Like I said (no pun intended), an honest review when you’re done. That’s it. No further strings attached. You can have your copy in either EPUB, MOBI or PDF. No print, please, at least not this round. I don’t have any spare print copies, right now. Maybe the next.

Interested? This offer is open to anyone that wants to take advantage of it. I repeat: Anyone. All you’ve got to do is post a review to one of the sites that my book is purchasable from (see the “Where to Buy” tab) when you finish it. An honest review. Don’t just tell me the book rocks because I gave you a free copy. I trust that what I wrote is viable and can stand up to a critique (though I may end up regretting that later). FYI, though: I’m going to repeat this offer in a separate Tweet and a separate Facebook post a bit later tonight for the people that don’t feel like reading my ramblings. But I’m going to give my followers here first dibs. And on Random Musings. I’m going to re-blog this over there.

Ready? Set? Go. My offer is now on the table. I look forward to hearing from you soon! Take care.

F.

Of Solo Bath Nights and Self-Publishing

It was one week ago tomorrow morning that I went “live” with my book on Amazon and Createspace. In the intervening time since I’ve sold a few units, ended up in a few more e-stores, worked a bear of a week in my “real” job (according to my wife, Nicole, writing is still just a hobby until I make a profit doing it) and endured not one, not two but three solo Bath Nights with my daughters, each one progressively more hectic than the one before it. Survey says? It’s been a heck of a week.

Looking back, I don’t think I would have done anything differently than I did. Within the next few days, I’ll have a good gauge of just how well ENDWORLD – A NOVEL is selling. I’m not expecting to be blown away. From what I can tell, the results so far have been modest, at best. But that’s okay. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: I didn’t do this to make money. If I end up making money? Terrific. But I’m a realist, and I don’t expect to see my name at the top of any top 10 or even top 20 lists yet. Maybe one day but for now? I’m having fun. I’m getting a “feel” for how the market works. The lessons that I’m learning, both good and bad, will benefit me in the long term. ‘Cause as I’ve said a couple of times, I’m don’t plan on this being a “one and done” thing. If everything goes according to plan, I may even have something else ready to go a bit later this year. But that is a story… stories for another time (hint, hint).

I’ve been asked a lot of questions this week from people I know and people I don’t know. The most common one? “What’s this book of yours about?” In no uncertain terms. Different people have phrased the question differently. I give them roughly the same summation that you can find on the back of the print copy, on the last page of the e-copies and on every product page ENDWORLD – A NOVEL is currently being featured on. Whether they want to read it afterwards is up to them.

But there’s another question that I’ve had to field on a couple of occasions. It usually comes after the requisite congratulatory handshake, or a reply to a status post on Facebook, or one to a Tweet. The “conversation” can be paraphrased like this:

Potential Consumer: “Congratulations on your book, Frank!”

Me: “Thank you very much!”

Potential Consumer: “W ho published it? Random House? Penguin? Tor?”

Me: “Frank Marsh.”

Potential Consumer (after a pause): “Um, you? You mean you self-published it?”

Me: “Yes. Yes I did.”

Potential Consumer (after another pause): “Oh. Well, congratulations anyway.”

End scene. Admittedly? I was aware of the stigma about self-publication when I opted to do so. Now, I’m still new to this whole “thing” so my opinion may not matter a lick or two to those of you that have been at this for a couple of years, but the impression that I get is that people? Potential Consumers like the one I mentioned above? They see self-publication as a cop out: An easy avenue to make your book available for the least amount of cost in the shortest amount of time. They may even see self-publication as a product of paranoia about your product, i.e. you don’t think a major publishing house would pick it up so you just do it yourself. Those people? They are entitled to their opinions, just like I’m entitled to mine. But in reality?

In reality, self-publication is anything but an easy avenue. Sure, you can publish your laundry list to Kindle Direct or NOOK Press if you really want to but any self-respecting author that writes because he or she enjoys writing and not because they want to make a quick buck doing it? They put an immense amount of time, work and money into not only polishing and publishing their product, but marketing it after it has appeared on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iTunes et al. They spend hours networking with other indie authors. They shamelessly self-promote their product on Facebook, on Twitter, on Linkedin and even on Google + (at least the one or two people that actively use Google + do) to the extent that they begin questioning how many of the people they’re “reaching” they’re actually reaching and not pissing off.

They start ad campaigns on social media sites to boost their product. Maybe not high dollar ones, but 15 bucks here or 30 bucks there. Those campaigns may result in a handful of additional sales. They join establishments like Goodkindles or IAN (both of which rock, by the way) because they want to increase their exposure without paying 500 plus dollars to a “reputable” company to publish a paragraph long review of their book. They order business cards from sites like Vistaprint and a dozen print copies of their book which they use to “cold call” bookstores. Maybe one Mom and Pop bookstore agrees to sell their book. They create book trailers or have book trailers created for them. Heck, I created one. Do you want to see it? Okay, then. Brace yourself. Here it is:

You can stop laughing now. C’mon: It was free. What do you expect? Admittedly, I would have preferred Stabbing Westward’s “I Won’t Become The Thing I Hate” or Alice in Chain’s “Nutshell” as opposed to the techno-esque music that I chose for the soundtrack, but I went through Hell enough trying to get Bartelby.com to let me use “The Wasteland” in the book. Who knows how many hoops I would have had to jump through to get an actual band’s music, even a band that’s been broken up for almost a decade or one that hasn’t been the same since the early 1990’s.

In a nutshell (no pun intended)? Self-publishing isn’t easy. It’s hard. Damn hard. And I guarantee you it’s not for everyone. But anyone who thinks that just because a self-published author doesn’t have an agent or the backing of a reputable publishing establishment they won’t put out a spit-shined and quality product is off their proverbial rocker. Some will. I’ve encountered self-published books over the last couple of years, ever since I decided to do this, that were rife with typos and formatting issues. Those issues? They stood in the way of me, sublimely enjoying what in most cases was a good story.

That’s not to say that ENDWORLD – A NOVEL doesn’t have a typo or two. It might. But I and my editor were diligent about catching as many as we could. In reality? Most books have one or two, major house published or self-published. That’s not to say that one or two people won’t object to how the print copy is formatted. They might. But I decided to put out a 448 page, 6X9 trade paperback with a readable text and not a 5X8, 667 page industry standard paperback that you would need a magnifying glass to read. Yes, the outside margin is a bit tighter than the inside but guess what? It looks good. And clean. At least I think it does. I’ll let those of you that have it in paperback be the judge of that.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again with a bit more surety than I said it last time: Self-publishing is a for the most part thankless process. There are no contracts to sign. No signing bonuses. No marketing blitzkriegs to coincide with the book’s release. You won’t get featured in the New York Times Book Review unless your name is Stefan King from Denmark and they mistake you for Stephen. You won’t be invited to do a book signing at Barnes and Noble and you won’t have a black tie, book release party. In short? You get nothing. Nothing handed to you. Everything that you get you need to earn on your own. That is the definition of “thankless.”

Then why do it? If you believe that your book is good enough to be picked up by a major publishing house, why not go out, sign yourself an agent and let him or her do all of the work for you while you write the next book in your trilogy? ‘Cause really, you’re a writer, right? Not a business person. Not a marketing person. Writers write, they don’t sell. Why, why, why?

Because some people… people like myself, we want full control over the finished product. We want the tagline on the copyright page to say “Copyright 1997, 2013 by Frank Marsh.” We want to pick the cover that we want, not have it picked for us. We want to format it the way we want to format it in the font that we want to format it in (I’m actually quite partial to Bank Gothic, though the one that I and my designer eventually decided on is not, you will notice, Bank Gothic). We want the satisfaction of knowing that the book will succeed or fail per the merit of our efforts, not the efforts of a monkey-suited businessman or woman that we may or may not ever meet. Every positive review that it gets? We can smile and say that we earned it. Every negative one that it gets? We can own it, and use it as a tool to do better next time. And if the book eventually does turn a profit? We can rest assured in the knowledge that we deserve every red cent…

Even if said profit only amounts to one red cent.

In summation? Self-publishing is about as daunting an undertaking as solo Bath Night. But its also as rewarding as sitting with one, clean child on each of your laps watching “Wibbly Pig” at the end of a bear of a work week in your “real” job.

F.