Five + Five

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Tuesday, June 16, 2020. The Goodreads giveaway is over and this morning I ordered paperback copies to be shipped directly from Amazon KDP to the five winners – three readers in the U.S. and two in Canada – hooray for all of you and thank you for entering! In all, there were 2103 entrants. And eighteen folks are now following the blog, thank you.

It requires a certain type of intrepid, gutsy, courageously independent attitude to be a seeker of new things, I think; to be the first in, a so-called first adopter of something prior to its having established a reliable measure of what is referred to in marketing as “social proof.” It’s easy to jump on the bandwagon, as they say, of a popular book with hundreds of positive reviews and sparkling blurbs by famous authors or a blog with thousands or tens of thousands of followers (and advertising so that the blogger is actually getting paid), to rely upon the evaluation of others in that way to minimize the risk of wasting your money on something that isn’t worthy. I do it. I read reviews before I buy something. Though I avoid blogs containing even a hint of advertising.

And now I know how difficult it is even as an indie publisher in control of their own work to break out of what oftentimes seems an impossibly daunting level of obscurity. I dare say not many of us in the indie publishing realm are publishing insiders in any sense of the word – we don’t know anyone at all in the business, our manuscripts have likely already been rejected by every literary agency on the planet, perhaps more than once, and we’re starting from scratch. We’re bootstrapping. We’re referred to as “emerging authors” which amounts to a tender euphemism for “wannabe.”

I’m not complaining. I like being indie. I enjoy the challenge of being an authorpreneur. The traditional publishing business, via greed or complacence or both, seems to have managed to break itself. Yes, there have always been good books. But too many good books aren’t getting bought by traditional publishers because they can’t be shown to be immediately profitable. Everyone knows how imprints have been swallowed by the four or five remaining conglomerates in the publishing business. And literary agents acting as middlemen aren’t helping. I get the problem: it’s expensive to publish something and impossible guesswork to know what the public will want to buy. The business risks are significant. So that only the name author or the writer with an established platform presents a reasonably risk-free investment, if that.

But indie to the rescue! And just in time. Because I for one spent at least two years trying to sell Time Crime to a traditional publisher, the first time entirely self-edited and then again after I’d hired a professional editor, both times to no avail. I endured something like 150 rejections. So be it. It’s the nature of the beast, rejections, that is, if you want to be an author. I tell the story of all that in the DOP and someday I’ll perhaps get it all posted, journal entry by journal entry, here on the website.

Meanwhile, with the explosion of indie published books comes the so-called volcano-of-shit – the hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions (there are something over eight million books available on Amazon at this point) of titles that, well, aren’t any good; that are indeed, in a word, shit. Most readers these days I think understand that a writer isn’t required to use a professional editor or book designer to indie publish. To publish on Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) is free. Even Ingramspark, the major supplier of other bookstores and libraries, will waive its upload fee if you’re a member of ALLi. But you get what you pay for in life and in books. I think it’s a good thing, in the end, to have to work so hard at authorpreneurship; to work so hard at writing, editing, book design and marketing; to work so hard to spend the money wisely. It helps separate the wheat from the chaff. It’s how life works. And it takes money to make money, unfortunately that will never change. The boom times for indie publishing were ten years ago when you could slap a no-cost epub manuscript onto Amazon with a no-cost book cover and folks would buy it for their new Kindle. Or Nook. Just to experience the novelty of the technology. The competition was slim.

Now, the novelty of eBooks has long since worn off. Print has roared back into the fray. Yay! Readers like me like their printed books. And the competition to get noticed in the indie publishing realm is fierce. So that the books we make as indies have to be at least as good as those available via the trad publishers. And the costs to the indie author are significant. I’m at something like $8,000 for Time Crime, not counting the $4,000 it will cost for the audiobook version, (due out in August). Again, I’m not whining or complaining, I’m merely communicating the costs of doing business, of trying to survive as an indie writer and publisher, as an authorpreneur. It goes without saying, then, as an emerging author with only a few handfuls of books sold and a handful of ratings on Goodreads and no written reviews anywhere of Time Crime (yet!) that I have been functioning in the red. Blood red.

Nevertheless, like any author I dream of selling tens of thousands of copies of the novel – hundreds of thousands! And wouldn’t Time Crime make a great movie? I dream. I dream of quitting my day job and making a living from my writing. But meanwhile I’m happy to be in it to win it. I’m happy to be working as hard as I can to scrape up the cash and write and edit and market Time Crime so as to keep publishing the series to the highest standards I can manage.

All this brings me to the idea of nurturing my tribe, humble as it is and humble as we are. The Goodreads giveaway was fun, even thrilling. It was money well spent. And given that the odds of winning a copy of the novel during the giveaway turned out to be so slim – I never thought 2103 readers would be interested! – I want to extend my appreciation to those that entered and did not win and especially to those intrepid, first-in types who have signed up to follow the blog and are interested enough to have read this far. So that I’m offering another five FREE paperback copies of Time Crime, one each to the first five folks who take the trouble to email me (carnegie@carnegieolson.com). That’s right, the first five folks. In the email you need only include:

  • Your address (so I can mail you a copy)
  • The phrase “THE FUTURE IS THE PAST”

It’s that simple. I’m only posting this offer here, deep within the blog. And just as with the Goodreads giveaway I will order author copies of the books and have them shipped to “winners” directly from Amazon KDP, no strings attached. That is to say, I won’t do anything else with your address and I won’t even email you at all for anything (unless you want me to let you know you’ve won or when the five books are gone). I won’t market to you. I just want another five of my tribe to have significantly better odds at winning a copy of the book. Remember,The future is the past. Thanks for reading.