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One of my favorite forums to peruse out there in internet land is the one for authors on Goodreads. One particular thread on that board occupies most of my time. It’s called “Best Bang for buck book promos.” It serves as an invaluable information trading tool for all of us self-published authors curious about which advertising sites work well and which don’t. Although I’ve never found any silver bullet pieces of wisdom (aside from “get BookBub to promote your book, duh”) it’s good to keep track of any scams people trip over or any new/cheap promoters that always seem to boost your sales just enough to make a profit and expand your audience.
Occasionally, though, the thread wanders a little off topic. Not too long ago there was a flurry of posts where people commiserated with each other over the flood of terrible books on Amazon and what that glut of bad writing is doing to hurt the sales of all us good, honest, sincere, forthright, god-fearing and hygienic self-pubbers.
Luckily, I missed the week where these laments were being posted. Had I seen them in real time, I don’t think I could’ve resisted jumping in and picking a fight. My main problem isn’t with people complaining about bad books – for the love of Robert Heinlein, I’ve done plenty of that myself – but some commenters went so far as to recommend Amazon start trying to be more proactive about demanding a higher-quality of product before allowing it to be sold on the site. That’s when I started hopping up and down in my chair and blowing steam out of my ears.
The whole point of self-publishing is to bypass any self-appointed gatekeepers and present your work directly to the consumers and letting them be the final judge of its merit! To start hemming and hawing and saying “yeah, but there are people who are just throwing up unedited half-finished manuscripts and it’s giving us all a bad name” makes you sound like you feel like you’re THE special snowflake and all those other snowflakes can kiss off.
I made this realization a number of years ago about myself and believe me, it was an uncomfortable shock. I thought because I was good at this thing or that thing, it meant I should be given as many breaks as I wanted. Slack should be cut to fit me! When it was explained to me through subtle suggestion and workplace experience that you’re only as good as the latest good thing you did and if you want to succeed at something you have to care enough about it to keep trying to be better at it – only then did I understand I should stop wasting everyone’s time and start carving out my place in the world. On a good day, the world will make a little room for you, but most days you have to dig it out for yourself.
But you say you want Amazon to start separating wheat from chaff for you and your readers? Really? Who’s to say your work isn’t crap? So, you published something that’s 100K words and paid to have it edited and packaged professionally. Good for you! So what? That means you deserve something and the guy who’s just using the marketplace as a free sounding-board for a peer-review and revision process (I’ve read a couple of authors who do this) should be shut out? No. That author has as much right to the open market as you do. You don’t like it? Fine. You’re allowed. Just don’t be one of those guys who wants to change the system to suit himself and tries to make it sound like it’s somehow for the greater good.
Don’t be that guy. I understand you’re struggling and getting frustrated because you just can’t find an audience. Welcome to the club! Being an author is hard! But here’s the thing – you have to decide whether you actually want to be an author or you want to make money on Amazon. Because if all you want to do is sell books on Amazon, it’s actually not that hard to do. Go copy and paste some out-of-print novels, change some names, photoshop some covers and then post under a pseudonym. Guaranteed after a few promotions and a dozen or so titles, you’ll be raking in a steady profit. The romance genre, in fact, is rife with this kind of nonsense and I feel bad for the real authors who publish in it and try to make an honest name for themselves.
Want to be an author? Write. Write as much as you can as well as you can and after revising your work to the point where you can’t change anything more without changing the whole thing – then publish it. Wash, rinse, repeat. You’ll note that nowhere in that list of instructions does it mention complaining to Amazon that other writers seem not to try as hard as you do, so they should be shut out so your work is a little less buried under the pile. There’s no need for that and you shouldn’t have time to worry about it anyway.
Want to pass a gatekeeper and be in an elite club? Go the traditional publishing route! Then you won’t have to worry about any of this stuff!
You are not special. Neither is anyone else. However, you shouldn’t let that stop you from promoting your work and yourself. Keep writing and challenging yourself and your skills will eventually attract an audience. But trying to lobby for gates and referees on the playing field won’t help your game any.
AELFA, THE GRAND CAPITAL of the once mighty Aelfan Empire, has fallen. Barbarian war parties and nomadic tribes harass the retreating and broken legions that once overawed them. All that stands against them now is the city of Zyren, the last bastion of Aelfan rule.
Acting as a spy for Zyren is Grant Scotland, a man leading a double life because his own had been taken away from him by the very people he serves. An unwilling recruit into the business of clandestine missions and deceit, he searches for anything real to cling to as the world around him devolves into insanity. And when an old friend shows up asking him to help save his family by delivering a mysterious book to a shadowy figure, Grant's two lives collide and he is thrust into an even stranger world than he had known; one where ancient magic is wielded by deadly players who compete against one another for a prize greater than simply the rotting carcass of a dead empire.
AMONG THE ASHES of the mighty Aelfan Empire, the House of Gregyan seeks to forge a new kingdom—one where both Huthan and Aelfan alike can prosper. But old prejudices and ancient traditions and an exiled enemy threaten the peace. Caught between compassion for his home and allegiance to his fallen empire, Grant Scotland finds himself trapped in the turbulent machinations of enemies and friends. As he works to uncover mysteries about his father’s treachery and confront new threats to his future, he moves perilously close to revealing his identity and losing everything.
AS THE GREGYANS MARCH TO WAR and his handler takes a trip to Zyren, Grant Scotland, spy errant of the Aelfan Empire, gets ready to pursue a lead on finding a man who might be able to tell him the truth about his father's treason. Old friends, new enemies and hidden dangers soon confront him on his quest, but when he enters the dark world of another family's intrigue, he finds that not even the frontiers of the Aelfan Empire are far enough away to escape the dangers of fortune and fate.
RACIAL TENSIONS IN AELFA simmer and threaten to boil over when the harbormaster is found dead and the Huthan oppressors threaten to crack down in the Lower Docks. As Grant Scotland finds more questions than answers in the journals of Berthul Magnussen about his father’s treachery, he is drawn into a murder investigation, a kidnapping plot and the nefarious machinations of the city’s biggest crime lord—Mr. Quinn. In order to stop Quinn’s plans and save the city from being thrown into open revolt, Grant prepares to take his biggest gamble yet.
The first three books can be also be read in The Unlikely Spy (Adventures of Grant Scotland, Volume One): The Adventures of Grant Scotland series is an entertaining mix of fantasy, mystery and espionage featuring a hero whose many faults provide almost as much challenge to him as the formidable obstacles he must face as he attempts to impose sanity upon a world rapidly descending into chaos. Collected in this volume are the first three books in the series: Spy for a Dead Empire, Spy for a Troubled King and Spy for a Wayward Daughter.
Read an excerpt from Spy for a Greedy Villain (Adventures of Grant Scotland, Book Four):
I gave him a brief recap of my espionage activities over the past few months, which included reports on the growth and temperament of the One God followers, the coming and going of any Huthan notables and the operations of Doogan and Quinn. At last I followed up with a summary of the harbormaster investigation and finished with the discovery of a ghost in the Lower Docks.
“There’s no such things as ghosts, Scotland.”
“I know, but I haven’t worked up a better nickname for him yet.”
“I’m sure you’ll think of something. I have every confidence in your ability to accomplish inane tasks of trivial importance.”
“Everybody has to be good at something.”
“And while your limited mental capabilities will no doubt be severely taxed in that endeavor, I’ll do some checking into what could make a man entirely concealed in plain sight.”
“You mean invisible. You can just say invisible.”
“Were I interested in being as lacking in attention to details as you, I could use the word invisible, but luckily for the both of us I am not. Complete invisibility is impossible. Not even the greatest Aelfan wizards were ever able to accomplish such a feat. But, there are several ways a man can remain unnoticed. Take me for instance. For the eleventh time in a row you failed to spot me before I spotted you.”
“How am I not surprised you’ve been keeping score? At any rate, he didn’t sneak up on me, I’m telling you I looked right through him.”
“Except his boots. Unless in addition to invisibility you also believe in the existence of a sentient pair of boots?”
About the Author:
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Buy the book at Amazon. See below for sale dates on the books.
KINDLE COUNTDOWN SALE DATES:
Spy for a Dead Empire (Adventures of Grant Scotland, Book One): Kindle Countdown Deal
1/14 - 1/18 @ $1.99
Spy for a Troubled King (Adventures of Grant Scotland, Book Two): Kindle Countdown Deal
1/18 - 1/21 @ $0.99
1/21 - 1/25 @ $1.99
Spy for a Wayward Daughter (Adventures of Grant Scotland, Book Three): Kindle Countdown Deal
1/25 - 1/28 @ $0.99
1/28 - 2/1 @ $1.99
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