How to Buy My Books

Cover MOSH PIT-11 500px tall

Okay, this might sound like a weird blog post from the title, but appar­ently, some peo­ple are hav­ing prob­lems fig­ur­ing out how to acquire and read my newest work, The Rose Gar­den Arena Inci­dent. I’m guess­ing the con­fu­sion comes from the fact that there is no actual “paper” book for you to walk into the book­store and buy.

Fair enough. It wasn’t really until a cou­ple of years ago that I started read­ing books elec­tron­i­cally. Took a bit of time to get used to, but now I read prob­a­bly ninety-nine per­cent of my books on my iPhone, either read­ing them with the Kindle app, or lis­ten­ing to them with the Audi­ble app.

So, those are your options for Rose Gar­den. The book is actu­ally (tech­ni­cally) avail­able in three for­mats: as an audio­book, as a Kindle, or as an ebook. You might think that Kindle is an ebook, but there’s actu­ally two com­pletely dif­fer­ent for­mats, the for­mat Ama­zon uses for Kindle and the for­mat every sin­gle other ebook man­u­fac­turer and pub­lish­ing web­site uses.

My book is a serial thriller being pub­lished in seven parts, which means there will be seven indi­vid­ual books. Obvi­ously, each book is shorter than a nor­mal novel, but not by as much as you would think. The final word count for The Rose Gar­den Arena Inci­dent will be an esti­mated one hun­dred and eighty thou­sand words, putting it at a size just a hair under being three times the length of my debut novel, Dream with Lit­tle Angels.

Because the books are short, they aren’t priced very high. The first one, Mosh Pit which came out Sep­tem­ber 19 is avail­able on Ama­zon, Bar­nes and Noble, Kobo, and every­where else you might buy ebooks online, for a buck ninety-nine. The sec­ond one, Media Frenzy (com­ing out Octo­ber 21) will be priced the same. How short are they? Well, a proper novel is usu­ally around sev­enty-thou­sand to ninety thou­sand words. The first five Rose Gar­den books should come in between twenty and twenty-five thou­sand words (about ninety-five pages or so). So, yeah, they’re each a sort of “mini-novel.” If all goes as planned, the final two books—books six and seven—will be almost dou­ble that, com­ing in some­where between forty and forty-five thou­sand words. If you opt to lis­ten to the audio­books instead of read­ing the Kindle or ebook edi­tion, Eric’s nar­ra­tion for the first two install­ments takes two to three hours a book. That is if you lis­ten at nor­mal speed. I never do. But I’ll get to that in a moment.

So, how does one go about read­ing a Kindle or an ebook? It’s really sim­ple. You can do one of two things. You can buy your­self a Kindle from Ama­zon or a Kobo from Kobo or what­ever from who­ever, but you cer­tainly don’t have to. In fact, I would almost advise not doing that. I actu­ally pur­chased a Kindle Fire from Ama­zon a few years ago for a cou­ple hun­dred dol­lars and, once I got my iPhone, dis­cov­ered I never used it. So I gave it to my ex-wife. Thing is, if you have any sort of smart phone, or tablet, or even a desk­top or lap­top PC or Mac, you can down­load the Kindle app for free. Com­pletely free. Once you’ve done that, you just log into Amazon.com (or, if you hap­pen to live in my coun­try, Amazon.ca (or .uk, or … I know. You get it.) Once you’re there, do a search for my name or the title of any of my books, and you should be taken right to them. Even eas­ier? Click on the book cover at the top of this arti­cle, or just click right here.

Once you’ve done that, you’ll find your­self at the sell page for the book. Then it’s sim­ply a mat­ter of throw­ing it into your cart, going to the check­out, using your credit card to pay the dol­lar ninety-nine, and then the book will mag­i­cally appear (within sec­onds, usu­ally) on your Kindle device or iPhone or iPad or iPod or Android or PC or Mac or what­ever it is you’ve decided to do your read­ing on (I actu­ally prefer my phone to my iPad—I find I read faster on my phone. I think it’s because my eyes can take in each hor­i­zon­tal line of text in one look. Just a guess, though). If you decide to get really crazy with your Kindle spend­ing, you can turn on “one-click” in your Ama­zon account. Then all you need to do is just click a but­ton on the sale page and every­thing mag­i­cally hap­pens behind the sce­nes and your book appears thirty sec­onds later on your phone. This is not always a good thing.

Of course, if you’re using a dif­fer­ent ebook device, odds are, you already know where to go and what to do to buy books for it. 

And that’s it for the elec­tronic ver­sion. Easy peasy.

But what if you want to lis­ten to Eric’s mel­liflu­ous voice ren­der­ing my prose in per­fect elo­quence with his low, docal tones? Well, there’s a few dif­fer­ent ways you can do that, too. The audio­book is avail­able at numer­ous places, such as the iTunes store, Audible.com, and, I believe Google Play (maybe I’m wrong), among oth­ers. I use Audi­ble. And, just like with the Kindle app, the Audi­ble app is free to install on any of your devices or com­put­ers and, once you do, the process of going to Audible.com and buy­ing the book is exactly the same as I described it for the Kindle edi­tion on Ama­zon. In fact, Ama­zon owns Audi­ble, so this makes pretty good sense. Of course, it’s not as easy as click­ing on the book cover at the top of this post, but you could just click this link right here.

Once you’ve pur­chased the audio­book and it mag­i­cally appears on your device less than a min­ute later, you’ll find you have a few cool options, the best one prob­a­bly being to lis­ten to the book at speeds other than those Eric read it at. I usu­ally lis­ten to most of my fic­tion at 1.25 speed. Some­times I man­age to crank it up to 1.5, but usu­ally this is a wee bit fast. I lis­ten to a lot of audio­books. I mean, I haven’t done the math, but I think I have some­where around, I dunno, a hun­dred and sixty still-wait­ing-to-be-heard Audi­ble books in my cloud (oh, that’s another thing. When you buy a book, either as an ebook or an audio­book, that book is yours forever; well—with a few excep­tions … Ama­zon actu­ally has dif­fer­ent pro­mo­tions, some of which allow you to bor­row books or pay a monthly fee to read all the books you want and things like that, but nor­mally, the book is yours. Now, you’re prob­a­bly think­ing, “Gee, I really don’t want to have all them books tak­ing up room on my phone. I mean, I need some­where to store them Poke­mon I’ve been catch­ing.” And it’s true, the books can become big users of space if you buy them like I do. Luck­ily, though, you only have to store what­ever books you’re cur­rently read­ing. When you open an account with Ama­zon (or their com­peti­tors), you are given free “cloud” space. It’s basi­cally just a com­puter some­where with a par­ti­tion of one of it’s hard dri­ves ded­i­cated to you and your books. You can keep your books there forever and erase them from your devices and, if you ever want to read them again, just grab them off of you cloud. It’s really sim­ple. I just made it sound even more com­pli­cated than it had to be. It’s like, one but­ton.

Just in case you’re won­der­ing, to the best of my knowl­edge there is no “real book­store” you can walk into (at this point, any­way) to buy a Kindle or ebook or audio­book ver­sion of any of the Rose Gar­den install­ments. You do have lots of choices online, though. I believe between all the dif­fer­ent ver­sions, you can find them at almost two dozen dif­fer­ent book­sellers. If you’re at a loss to find one, please do not hes­i­tate to con­tact me using the icon at the bot­tom of my web­site.

One last thing. You may notice that audio­book cov­ers and Kindle/ebook cov­ers are dif­fer­ent. This is because Kindle/ebooks use the same sort of pro­por­tions as reg­u­lar books—they’re taller than they are wide. For some weird rea­son, audio­book cov­ers are always square. This may not seem like such a big deal—and prob­a­bly usu­ally it’s really not—but t;but usu­ally peo­ple don’t have to have seven com­pletely dif­fer­ent cov­ers cre­ated when they release their newest work. So, yeah … I needed four­teen sep­a­rate cov­ers.

Any­way, that’s it. So, please don’t feel intim­i­dated by tech­nol­ogy! Buy my books. Buy my friends’ books, too. We’re all pretty good writ­ers. Oh, and one last thing. After you fin­ish read­ing them I would really appre­ci­ate it if you could take the time to post a review on what­ever site you bought them on. The place you do that, is right at that same page you searched for when you bought it. I’m sure other authors would also appre­ci­ate this ges­ture.

Thank you very much. I hope y’all have a won­der­ful rest of the week­end!

 

Michael out.

Rose Garden Book 1: Mosh Pit Goes On Sale Tomorrow

Tomor­row, The Rose Gar­den Arena Inci­dent Book 1, Mosh Pit will be avail­able as an ebook on Ama­zon, Kobo, Nook, Apple, etc. The audio­book ver­sion will be avail­able on Ama­zon, Audi­ble, iTunes, etc.

Remem­ber, you don’t need an actual Kindle device to read Kindle books. You can down­load the Kindle app for free and it will work on pretty much any­thing. Smart­phones to tablets to lap­tops to desk­tops.

 

How to be a Great Writer and Why That Still Doesn’t Matter

Quill and ink for copyedit pagesSome­one from a Face­book writ­ing group I’m in asked if any­one else was over­whelmed by the sheer num­ber of writ­ers out there today. And, it’s a valid ques­tion because never in the his­tory of this world, has so many peo­ple decided they can write. And it’s not a bad thing. Peo­ple need to express them­selves. I’m sure for some peo­ple (like my daugh­ter) just hav­ing things like social net­works and blogs have helped them find cathar­sis. Because writ­ing does that, espe­cially before you get to the point where it becomes a “busi­ness.” And some­how, the fact that oth­ers might be read­ing it seems to make it more attrac­tive to these peo­ple. I think that’s a lot of the rea­son we’re see­ing so many writ­ers today. It’s not just because they know they can self-pub­lish if New York shuns them, and it’s def­i­nitely not for the money (it’s really hard to make decent money writing–I have four tra­di­tion­ally pub­lished nov­els and I may have to siphon gas out of the neighbor’s car at mid­night if I want to go visit my girl­friend). So yeah, we’re not sit­ting back in the pent­house suite of the Four Sea­sons sip­ping mimosa and sketch­ing out plot ideas. Nobody’s in this for the money. You’d be bet­ter off work­ing as a McDonald’s crew chief.

I also think a lot of peo­ple aren’t over­whelmed because they really don’t think in the back of their mind that they’re going to ever acheive the sta­tus of “pro­fes­sional writer.” They’re shoot­ing for maybe a cou­ple of short story sales, or they want to fin­ish the novel they’ve been work­ing on for three years, and self-pub­lish it—maybe even pub­lish it for free. They just want to express them­selves and hope­fully gain a lit­tle self-esteem boost in the process by find­ing those hand­ful of read­ers who come back with some­thing like, “You know? That’s a good book. You’re a smart guy. I don’t know how you did that.” I think that’s the real golden ticket in the Wonka bar for the vast major­ity.

So, how does this work with the peo­ple that do really want to make it? Those who really want to become mid-list or (if you’re like me and already man­aged to do that) have their eyes set on the NY Times best­seller list?

Well, if that’s case, every­thing I’ve said up until now is good news, because it means the play­ing field isn’t nearly as mas­sive as it looks from the bleach­ers. There’s a lot of fire­works in the sky, but once they’ve done their short-lived explo­sions, the dark­ness once again set­tles over and you can see the stars. There aren’t as many stars and they aren’t as bright, but they’ll cer­tainly glow a lot longer. And, for the most part, they’re sta­ble.

So what does it take to stand out and be a star?

Tenac­ity. That’s pretty much all there is to it. The dif­fer­ence between a mediocre writer and a good writer is prob­a­bly 200,000 words of fin­ished prose. To most new writ­ers, that sounds like a huge moun­tain to climb—especially the “fin­ished” part. I do 200,000 words of fin­ished prose—these days—probably every six to eight months. I don’t think like a begin­ner writer any­more; I think like a pro­fes­sional. And I fin­ish pretty much every­thing I start.

So, 200,000 words will make me a good writer?” you ask. “That doesn’t sound bad. I can do that.”

I agree, you prob­a­bly can. It’s just a mat­ter of push­ing through and ignor­ing that lit­tle voice that tries to tell you every­thing you’re writ­ing is crap. Don’t lis­ten to him. Even if he’s right (and he prob­a­bly is. If this is your first 200,000 words, don’t expect to sell what­ever it is you’re writ­ing. It prob­a­bly is crap. But after that, you’ll be good.

Only prob­lem: Good isn’t good enough.

Sure the play­ing field sud­denly got smaller, but there’s still a hel­luva lot foot­ball hel­mets out there and the march­ing band just appeared. And their dubi­ous of any­one with a stack of dou­ble-spaced paper in their hands.

If you want to be a real, hon­est to good­ness, pro­fes­sional writer, you need to be great. Two things really, really improved my writ­ing dra­mat­i­cally, almost overnight. One was the day I emo­tion­ally dis­in­vested myself from my work. I have my men­tors, Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Dean Wes­ley Smith to thank for this. At the time, it wasn’t a pleas­ant expe­ri­ence. They basi­cally beat it out of me with a stick, but some­times that’s what it takes. You are not your writ­ing and your writing—even, I bet if you’re Stephen King—is not always going to be good. So get over it. Not every day will be a Hem­ing­way Day. Some days are going to just be shitty crappy writ­ing days. But don’t not write. You need those days. They are your prac­tice days. And the whole point of prac­tice is to refine yours skills and make your mis­takes when they don’t really mat­ter. Once you no longer have an emo­tional stake in your writ­ing, sud­denly every time some­one tells you there’s some­thing wrong in your man­u­script or you have a feel­ing some­thing in your plot has mis­fired, your reac­tion will be: “Cool. How do i fix this? How do I make this great?” Until you detach, you won’t have these thoughts. You’ll have that lit­tle voice say­ing, “Told you so. You suck.” And then another one com­ing right on its heels: “No, wait! Fuck him. He has no clue what he’s talk­ing about. He’s stu­pid.” Before I detached emo­tion­ally from my writ­ing, a lot of very stu­pid peo­ple cri­tiqued my man­u­scripts. Ha ha.

But why is it, for the most part, we never seem to know the dif­fer­ence between our shiny work and our shitty work? Well, more good news. We do. Even­tu­ally. It just takes some time for that abil­ity to reveal itself. This is the sec­ond thing that rock­eted the qual­ity of my writ­ing to a higher place almost overnight: when I finally learned how to objec­tively judge my own work and sort out the good stuff from the bad. I should add a clar­i­fi­ca­tion: no mat­ter how long you write and how many words you crank out, you’ll never be able to do this with 100% accu­racy, but you can get close. I’m around 90%. Some­times, I’ll be writ­ing like a tsunami, think­ing, Christ, James Joyce has noth­ing on me, only to give it to some­one to read and get back a bland “meh” reac­tion (which is the worst!!). Those times, usu­ally, once I’ve had a day or so away from the work and a half dozen beer, I’ll look at it with fresh eyes and real­ize I had been caught up with the pas­sion of writ­ing and it had com­pletely destroyed my abil­ity to see the prover­bial forest for the trees. It really is “meh.” But it’s all good. It was prac­tice. I prac­ticed. You have to prac­tice. I also don’t ever throw any­thing away, so who knows? One day, some­thing might come out of that trip to Bore­town.

But the real thing that’s going to turn you from a good writer into a great writer? More of that tenac­ity. Prob­a­bly you’ll need to put down another 800,000 words before you’ll be truly great. And by then, you’ll know how good you are and sud­denly all that inner doubt dims (not com­pletely, it’s never, ever gone for good. And usu­ally man­ages to rear its head at the worst pos­si­ble times). Once you hit this level, you won’t even show your writ­ing to peo­ple nearly as much as you used to because you no longer need the affir­ma­tions. You’ll sim­ply know you’re great. You’ll give your stuff to actual read­ers because you truly want good feed­back.

Reach that point, and you’re in the top 2% of all writ­ers out there. So… where’s your agent? Where’s your big pub­lish­ing con­tract? Where’s my man­sion and super model wife?

Here’s where the story gets a lit­tle bleak. The sim­ple fact is, tal­ent is not all it takes. His­tory is full of tal­ented writ­ers who went to their graves before any­one saw them shine. Many were sui­cides. Don’t let this be you. New York is fickle. Agents are fickle. The entire indus­try has had a humon­gous boot to its nuts and everybody’s sud­denly gun shy. I quit my “real” job in 2002. It took me ten years to find an agent. Dur­ing that time, I wrote 16 nov­els and sent out not a sin­gle query let­ter. I also wrote around 75 short sto­ries, which I did send out to mag­a­zi­nes and places like that. I achieved min­i­mal suc­cess with those. My biggest suc­cess with shorts has always been in con­tests. But, once I got a NY agent, she man­aged to sell some of my books within two years to a NY pub­lisher. They then went on to con­tract me for two more books (not from my back list). These four books are the ones you guys know of as my “Alvin” series.

You may never get an agent. You may never get a pub­lish­ing con­tract. These are sim­ple facts of life. If you keep try­ing, you have a bet­ter chance, but you also have a bet­ter chance of it all throw­ing you into a dark depres­sion of futil­ity and frus­tra­tion. Some­times the pink dragon can’t be caught. Not because he’s fast or agile, sim­ply because he doesn’t exist. Again, get over it. There is no other way.

My last tra­di­tion­ally pub­lished book came out July of this year. I have a few in the pipeline that are still com­ing out in mass mar­ket paper­back (Close to the Bro­ken Hearted will be out this Jan­u­ary). Due to cir­cum­stances I have nobody but myself to point blame at, I am not sure if I will ever tra­di­tion­ally pub­lish another novel. I hope I do. But it doesn’t mat­ter. I can’t stop writ­ing. I’m way past stop­ping. So I am self-pub­lish­ing my newest book, The Rose Gar­den Arena Inci­dent (A serial thriller in seven parts. I’m not kid­ding myself, though. I know I’ll be lucky if I man­age to sell a thou­sand copies. my other books? The ones Kens­ing­ton put out? Twenty thou­sand. I think they printed fifty-five thou­sand paper­backs when Dream with Lit­tle Angels was released again just this past April. I’ll never see num­bers like this doing things on my own. I sim­ply don’t have the money to throw upwards of—I don’t know how much they spent for each book, $50,000? $75,000?—into mar­ket­ing. I also don’t have the infra­struc­ture put in place to do it. To sell a lot of books, you need to go through book­sellers that have a par­a­digm in place to get books into the hands of read­ers. I really don’t. Hock­ing ebooks on Ama­zon along with maybe the odd Cre­ate­space trade paper­back will never allow you to com­pete with ded­i­cated mar­ket­ing depart­ments and dis­trib­u­tors and all the inter­con­nec­tions that come with a brick and mor­tar pub­lish­ing house. They have employ­ees. I have a dog.

On the other hand, there’s always that slight chance my self-pubbed books might go crazy. I mean, it has hap­pened. It’s just far and away not part of the belly part of the bell curve. Those sto­ries (and there are prob­a­bly less than twenty) lie out in the crazy, lunatic fringe.

But I’m okay with that. For me, writ­ing has never been about the money. I write because I have to write. If I didn’t, I don’t think I’d ever have gone through those ten years wait­ing to find an agent while writ­ing six­teen nov­els. I wrote those books to enter­tain myself. I wrote them because not writ­ing is impos­si­ble for me. It’s not like this all the time. Some days, there’s noth­ing there. Nada. Not a word. Other days, it’s like some­one has taken my soul and lit it afire and the only way to douse that fire is to ham­mer down 12,000 words. I’ve had 25,000 word days. I once had a 36,000 word day/night stretch. But then I’ll go two weeks with noth­ing. I don’t freak out when this hap­pens, although I cer­tainly used to. But I’ve learned that, even­tu­ally, the fire guys in my stom­ach will return. Until that time, I focus on my fam­ily who really don’t see nearly enough of me.

I guess my point is this: don’t get dis­cour­aged by all the other writ­ers out there. And don’t ever com­pare your “career” to some­one else’s. And make sure you why you’re writ­ing and that it’s not for the money or suc­cess or the women. Espe­cially not the women. The thing that you have to remem­ber is that very few “writ­ers” actu­ally write. They like to talk about writ­ing. Oh Christ, for days on end. And they love start­ing nov­els or NNARAMO or wtf it’s called (I hate NANARAMO. I think it’s one of the worst things that ever hap­pened to the craft). Out of all of those writ­ers, less than five per­cent man­age to ever fin­ish a novel. And it drops to two per­cent if you’ve man­aged to get through more than one. That just wiped out a lot of the rab­ble. And, seri­ously, until you get at least two hun­dred thou­sand words under your belt, you’re a ter­ri­ble writer. So that requires a level of com­mit­ment not everyone’s will­ing to give.

Let me leave with some­thing a lit­tle brighter than where this has gone:
Fol­low your bliss. Even­tu­ally, the money should come after you. That’s what I believe. But you have to be deter­mined. There are peri­ods even now when I think back to how much time I just hunched over my lap­top instead of being with my kids (I wrote a mil­lion words a year, two years running–that’s just stu­pid), and I shake my head. Was it all even worth it? I don’t know. I bet they don’t think so. To be clear, I don’t write nearly that many words these days. Maybe a quar­ter of that. But it still both­ers me how much time I’ve spent on what some peo­ple would con­sider a “hobby.” 🙂

Any­way, that’ it. If you’ve read this far, I salute you 🙂

Michael out.

80 Proof

It’s the first of the month and time for the cover and title reveal of the next book in The Rose Gar­den Arena Inci­dent series! The third book, called 80 Proof is now avail­able for pre­order! The story really kicks off here. With a cast as huge as I have in this story, it took two books to set every­thing up (not say­ing the first two were bor­ing, check early reviews on Goodreads to see objec­tive opin­ions 🙂 ) and it’s here every­thing starts to go off the rails. I’m totally hyped on this project. It’s far and away my best work ever.

Any­way, with­out fur­ther ado (because nobody needs fur­ther ado), here’s the cover:

 

Cover 80-proof-4 500px tall

Let me know what you think. Leave me a com­ment or send me an email, I’m really inter­ested in your opin­ion.

 

Michael out.