Archive for September, 2018

Well, that was different. Every author waits for that email response to his submission that says an editor or publisher is interested, and even more exciting is the idea of a telephone call. I mean, if someone is willing to take the time to talk to you, that has to be a sign of real commitment, right?

As with so much in life, it depends.

The call this time was from an outfit called Readers Magnet. (I’m not linking to them on purpose.) We weren’t home; they left a message. The woman on the other end said her company had seen my book, The Choking Rain, on line and was so impressed with its four-star rating that they wanted to “work with me.” The fleeting excitement that accompanies someone calling about your book quickly evaporated when I heard this: With all of the hundreds of thousands of titles out there, thousands of which sport five-star ratings, why call about this one? (I mean, The Invisible City has a five-star rating, and more reviews. Why didn’t you call about that?)

There are a few things about the 21st century I appreciate, and one of them is the ability to Google companies like this in about half a second. And I did. I was not surprised at what I found.

Readers Magnet is a book packager. It claims to help you publish and distribute your novel, and for this it is pleased to charge you far more than 90% of the self-published books out there will make in the author’s lifetime. They list several books on their web site; only one had any reviews, one I couldn’t even find on Amazon, and none of them had sales that would–well, let’s just say I wasn’t impressed. They do include testimonials, and for all I know those authors are very pleased with what they got–but I wouldn’t want it.

Self-publishing is tough to do by yourself, no question. But the problem with self-publishing is not publishing–heck, I’ve published eight books. It’s not rocket science any more. The problem isn’t even distribution: You’re on Amazon! You’re distributed to the entire known universe! The problem is discoverability. If you want to hire someone to help you with that, don’t look at how many books they’ve published, look at how the books they’re publishing are doing in the marketplace.

Better yet, go to the Kindle Boards, or track down some well-known self-published authors and ask them. They’re not hard to find, and I’ve yet to meet one who isn’t pleased to talk about how it all works and how he/she made it. Believe me, this is something you only do if you love it.

And above all, think about screening your calls.




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It has been a while since I posted, but it’s been a busy few weeks, and something had to give. There have been out-of-town guests, and Worldcon, and preparing for out-of-town guests, and recovering from Worldcon, and just trying to get back on track with my writing projects. And now it’s football season and there are all those games to watch…


So, Brian, you went to Worldcon. How was that?

So glad you asked. I am happy to report that, unlike Comic-con, there were no dessert-related disasters. In fact, there were no disasters at all. I wouldn’t say this was the best Worldcon I’ve ever attended, but it was by far not the worst.

The main problem I had was that (like Comic-con) you couldn’t get into any panels. The rooms chosen for most events were just too darn small. Even when we could get a seat, the room was SRO, and often we couldn’t get in at all. Please concoms, I know this is a tough deal (I’ve done it), but it doesn’t do any good to present exciting programming if people can’t get into the room to see it!

The other problem was simply one inherent in large cons: I couldn’t see the people I wanted to see. Specifically, I had hoped to connect with GOH Spider Robinson, because he was GOH at a con I chaired a looooong time ago. But due to circumstances, some beyond my control, that didn’t happen. Ah, well.

On the other hand, I did connect with several old friends from Northern California I rarely see, and that was special. One friend, attending her first Worldcon, even volunteered and may have discovered an inner geek that she (or at least I) never knew existed. It will be interesting to see where this goes.

I also found the dealer’s room quite intriguing, with quite enough booksellers to satisfy even one such as I–and by waiting to the last day, I scored several books I’d been looking for at a bargain price! (Then I had to ship them home, which was another matter…)

The high point, though, had to be the exhibit and programming surrounding Ghost of Honor Bob Wilkins, the legendary host of Creature Features, which formed so much of my youth. Seeing clips of Bob from the old days brought back happy memories, and maybe I even shed a nostalgic tear.

All in all, it was an enjoyable, if exhausting, experience. It may have to last me a while, since the next two Worldcons are overseas, and absent a Hugo nomination, I may not be able to attend. (Note to self: Write a Hugo-worthy story tonight.)

Speaking of writing, I am roughly 15% of the way into my latest book, and plowing ahead. I also have a story awaiting first-round editing, so that’s exciting. (That’s the word I want, right, “exciting”? Because “terrifying” also suggests itself…)

Oh, and I almost forgot: The Stolen Future and Nemesis novels are still on sale for $.99 for a limited time! Early Christmas shopping, anyone?

Busy as a bee, that’s me. I can’t wait for the distant day I can retire and write full-time. Then I’ll have time to relax, right?


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To celebrate the end of summer (wait, does anyone ever celebrate the end of summer?), I’ve put all of my Stolen Future and Nemesis books on sale at $.99 each. That means The Invisible City, The Secret City, and The Cosmic City, as well as The Choking Rain, The Scent of Death, and The Killing Scar. Each one $.99! That’s three books for the price of one!

Whether you’re looking for classic science fiction adventure or two-fisted pulp action from the 1930s, this is your chance to pick up some great reading at a really great price! I mean, would you rather read this or that Shakespeare guy your English teacher assigned?


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