Joy vs. Success

Yesterday I got an email from the woman who edited Savior and Martin of Gfenn. She’s a lovely person, and I like her very much. I even hope we meet someday. Her email suggested a small press I should contact, one that has published the work of another of my editor’s clients.

I got a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. OK, I know I’ve just barely gotten over the flu and I’m not yet 100%, even though I did take Dusty and Bear out to the fields yesterday, but it was still a strange reaction. I immediately went to their website and assessed it. By now I have an experienced — if somewhat jaundiced — eye. They have published a few novels. They are an offshoot of a literary journal. Their website is amateurish. There is nothing there to tell wouldbe writers how to submit work. None of these are red flags, necessarily, but it reminded me of the now bygone Bygone Era Books, RIP.

Rather than the feeling of hope I would have felt a year ago discovering a new possibility, I felt mildly nauseated by the thought of starting all that up again.

My editor asked if I were working on anything now and I am and am not. One project is busy work, in a way, though it might become something. The other is tabled until I have some idea who the protagonist is and why the story needs to be written at all. The thought of publishing has, meanwhile, pretty much stolen the joy from the whole thing and, as I learned from a tea bag a couple of days ago, “Joy is success.”

Cryptic little tea bag. It could mean that success brings joy; it could mean (as I read it) joy itself is success. Writing was never meant — for me — to be an obligation and what I’ve learned in the past year has taught me that fame might be a subjective term.

I’m famous now in a way I never imagined. I got a Christmas card and note from one of the two remaining aunts in my family — there were 7 girls, one of them was my mom. They were all very bright, beautiful and complex women, significantly different from each other — not too surprising as one was born around the turn of the century and the last was born in the mid 1920s. The note came from the youngest, Aunt Dickie. I’ve sent her my novels and she has loved them. In the note she told me that she and a group of “girls,” her reading group, are going to read The Brothers Path this winter and discuss it and she told me she is proud of me. “It’ll be a little money for you, anyway. Love you, Aunt Dickie.”

No publisher in the world can give me that.

I think the next thing I will write, and what I will do with it, remain to be discovered. Meanwhile, this morning the freezing fog (which I love) is tangled in the tops of the trees, encasing each tiny twig in white, and the tree tops disappear mysteriously into the clouds.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/discover/

Book Marketing — Goodreads.

Umberto Eco said of himself, “I’m a writer, not a reader” and I would say that the same has been true of me for a long time. But a writer needs readers, so…

Along with virtual book tours, most of the experts I consulted at the beginning of this marketing journey recommended getting jiggy on Goodreads. Goodreads — a social media platform for readers — is simultaneously a cool thing and a desperately UN-cool thing. If you’re a reader you can learn a lot about books you might enjoy, interact with other readers and have discussions. In that sense, it’s brilliant.

When I learned that Goodreads is owned by Amazon, I became a little skeptical. However, it is really an amazing platform for selling books. Along with that are “challenges” about how many books one plans to read in a year. I cannot relate to that at all. Readers are actually motivated to “quantify” their reading? More ways to sell books and for Amazon to make money. Every book links to Amazon so the reader can buy it tout suite.

Goodreads encourages the participation of authors and makes it easy to set up an author page. They have real people to help you if you run into trouble, and the people are NICE. I LOVED the support available to authors. Goodreads support believes it is on a mission for good and behaves that way. ❤

Most of the experts whose advice I found recommended a Goodreads giveaway. I did this as part of my “book launch” this past fall and marketing push, as a way to get reviews and publicize my work. What have I gained so far? Not much…

I sent 20 books at $5 each (my cost) plus $3 each shipping = $260 not counting the “goodies” one is advised to include in these giveaways — bookmarks aren’t free; my time is worth something. From this investment I have gotten one verbal review (negative and uncomprehending – you don’t request, open and read a book that is obviously about the Protestant Reformation and expect NOT to read anything about God) and two ratings.

I also bought $100 in advertising and ran five ads. This did bring attention to my books, specifically to the give aways. But the biggest thing I got from that is that my novels do not have mass appeal.

Goodreads gives statistics about who has what books on their virtual shelves to read. I noticed recently that several hundred people now have my three novels on their “to read” list and ONE person is, at this moment, actually reading one of them.

Goodreads has as one of its goals the cataloging of every edition of  book ever published, so on Goodreads are two of my books that were in print and in the marketplace for a very short time. A reader came squealing by some months ago and left one star ratings on each of these two books. For what reason? I ended up editing the description of each of these books to state that the books are unavailable… but the two one-star ratings brought my overall rank down substantially.

For me, this adventure was a bomb. But I think if you have a larger budget and can buy advertising it’s more likely to work. If you’ve written something that is on the public pulse you’ll have more luck as well.

Again, it seems to boil down to knowing yourself and knowing your audience.

 

Reflections on My Recent Virtual Book Tour

IndieBRAG graciously invited me to write a post for their blog on my recent experiences with a virtual book tour for The Brothers Path. Overall, the experience was a mixed bag and quite (for me) expensive.

As I put together the post I came up with things I wish I had known and questions I think might help any author decide if a virtual book tour will help sell their book and will be worth the investment.

SO…if you think you might be about to self-publish your work and you want to sell it and you’re in a conundrum about how best to invest your (limited) funds to the best advantage, my little article might be helpful, at least give you something to think about.

https://www.bragmedallion.com/blog/buy-blog-tour-publicize-book/

Good Gnus!

Not writing the Daily Post has left me pursuing my “job” which is marketing novels. Probably for the good (for now).

Today I had good news. First, I noticed that Mastof Bookstore has sold two of the three books and I contacted them to see if they wanted more. I learned from that that one of the copies has been sold to a university library in Canada, the Milton Good Library of the Conrad Grebel College, a Mennonite college named for the early Anabaptist leader, Conrad Grebel, and the college is part of the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada.

I also have it arranged to sell my books in another brick and mortar store, Poor Richards Bookstore in Colorado Springs. Since making a phone call is one of the most difficult things for me (and I wasn’t, honestly, very cool) I feel I achieved something. Plus, Colorado Springs has a population.

I have three more stores to call — Taos, Salida and, if I get the guts up, an independent bookseller in Denver.

 

Journey to Zürich: The Brothers Path (Book Review)

Lovely review by Lisl Zlitni of The Brothers Path. It’s unique in that Lisl has also read and reviewed Savior and is sensitive to the relationship between the two stories. Thank you, Lisl!

before the second sleep

Today we set off on a new series and bit of a journey to sixteenth-century Zürich, by way of author Martha Kennedy and her magnificently-told tales. Her second novel, Savior, previously reviewed in these pages, brings us next to The Brothers Path and the six Schneebeli brothers, descendants of characters in its predecessor. Stay tuned for more from this wonderful author and what she has to say about it all.

The Brothers Path by Martha Kennedy

the-bros-path-cover-fb-headerIn The Brothers Path, set in 1520s Reformation Switzerland, author Martha Kennedy brings us to an era that often seems to get the short end of the stick in history classes. These are the days of Zwingli and Manz, when infant baptism was rejected, then, by Zwingli, supported. Barely concealing the selling out of his beliefs in exchange for the influential support of the Zürich council, Zwingli rose in prominence and power. Using corruption…

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INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR – MARTHA KENNEDY

Thank you, Marilyn, for the chance to answer questions people have asked about The Brothers Path. That’s how these interview questions came into being!

SERENDIPITY

Me in Obfelden Martha Kennedy

Why do you have a typo in the title of your novel? Shouldn’t there be an apostrophe?

There’s no typo. There is a path through the forest that is very important to the story, and its name is The Brothers. The novel takes its name from the path. The Brothers Path.

Switzerland is far away. Why don’t you write about your own country?

The events in The Brothers Path were the opening shots that led to many Swiss leaving Switzerland 200 years later. The Reformation was the beginning.

Several hundred thousand Swiss have emigrated to America over the centuries. Some of the earliest settlers were Amish and Mennonite Swiss who came here so they could freely practice their religion. That’s where The Brothers Path might touch home for many Americans and stimulate curiosity about their own ancestry.

The family that populates The Brothers Path is based on my…

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Caveat Emptor — Again

You’ve carefully proofread your manuscript. It’s been professionally edited. You’ve taken great care in designing the book. You carefully proof the proof. You order copies. You fan through one or two as they arrive. You think, “Great!” and then this happens. You’re never finished.

Hi Martha,

Are you aware that some of the print copies of your book have pages that were printed upside down? One tour host just told me her copy has a lot of pages printed upside down.

Best,

Teddy