Monday, February 8, 2016

Capitalism at Its Finest

post by Michelle Griep
It's no secret that Barnes and Noble has been floundering lately. Sales are off. Not as many customers. It's just easier to click on Amazon and get what you want delivered to your door.

But (and I've always got a big but) I came across an interesting tidbit of news over the weekend. Bookstores may be languishing yet they are by no means dead -- and will likely never become extinct. There are just too many book freaks out there (God love 'em) who need the tactile experience of browsing through shelves and fingering hard copies.

And Amazon is picking up on that. Last year they opened their first brick-and-mortar store in Seattle . . . and it's likely the first of many. The chief exec of General Growth Properties publicly stated that Amazon could possibly open up 300-400 more.

So, what do you think? Now that B&N is limping around like a duck with a broken wing, big bird Amazon may be swooping in for the kill. An interesting way to take out your competition, eh?

Whatever, it won't stop me from shopping at one should it open by my house. Survival of the fittest.

Friday, February 5, 2016

5 Reasons Why Your Book Doesn't Sell

post by Michelle Griep
Sales numbers are the bane of every writer. When books sell like hotcakes, life is good (assuming of course that hotcakes are in demand). But when sales turn southward and those numbers are nonexistent, cue the death march. What causes a book to stumble around like a drunk about to pass out? Several things . . .


5 Reasons Why Your Book Doesn't Sell

1. Readers don't care about your story.
The number one reason a book doesn't have good sales numbers is that readers aren't buying it. This is known as the "duh" factor. But let's look at the main reason why a reader wouldn't cough up the cash for your book. It sucks. The writing is novice at best. Maybe the copy has typos. Or perhaps the plot has holes that seven Mack trucks driving abreast could plow through. No writer wants this to be the case, but honestly, sometimes it is.

2. Your publisher doesn't care about your story.
Publishers put money behind their titles, sure, but that doesn't mean they spread the love around evenly. Some books get more marketing dollars than others. Maybe yours just happened to be the one that came out the same month as two others which were written by bigger-named authors, so they get the publicity and you get squat. No, that isn't fair, but thanks for noticing.

3. The competition beat you to the punch.
Just because you wrote an interstellar pirate murder western doesn't mean another author didn't have that same idea -- and got their book on the market a few weeks before yours. Sometimes sales numbers are all about timing, and that timing is completely out of your hands, little lowly author.

4. The market is gorged like a fat pig.
Do you know how many books are on Amazon? Like a bajillion. Okay, so I was never good at math, but statistics other than mine show that a U.S. book sells less than 250 copies per year and less than 3,000 copies over the lifetime of the book. Last year there were more than 2 million books published. It's not only easy to get lost in the shuffle, it's the norm.

5. Your cover looks like a third-grader designed it.
Readers do judge books by their cover. If yours doesn't reach out and grab a reader by the throat in like half a second, then it's guillotine time for you, author. Unfortunately, most traditionally published authors don't have a say in their cover.

A lot of these reasons are super depressing. So, what's an author to do besides quit and take up selling life insurance instead of writing? In the words of Elsa, let it go. Let. It. Go. Life's too short to be stressing over numbers. Write the best possible book you can, launch it into the world, then turn right around and write an even better one.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Happy Meals and the BBC

post by Michelle Griep
Ever since I watched Supersize Me, I haven't been a huge fan of McDonald's. Which brings us to a crossroads for today's post. There are two things to delve into: supersizing and McDonalds.

First off, while researching the Victorian era (yeah, guess what I'm working on next) I discovered a sweet little BBC show called The Supersizers. It's about a British couple who do a spin-off of supersizing through the eras. I watched The Supersizers Go Victorian wherein this husband and wife team eat and live nothing but Victorian for an entire week. The show documents their experiences. Pretty dang interesting, so give it a whirl.

Secondly, McDonald's. As I said, not my go-to for a meal out but it might be through February 15th. The toy in the Happy Meal will be a children's book. Yes! A real deal book. Customers receive either Paddington by Michael Bond, Clark the Shark Takes Heart by Bruce Hale, Happy Valentine's Day, Mouse! by Laura Numeroff and Felicia Bond, and Pete the Cat: Valentine's Day is Cool by Kimberly and James Dean.

Books are worth celebrating so grab your kid, a grandchild, or even some random rugrat off the street . . . wait a minute . . . bad idea. Always get the parents' permission first before you go yanking a young un' off to Mickey D's for a Happy Meal. Sheesh. What were you thinking?

But hurry. This dealio ends February 15.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

It's Enough to Make You Drink

post by Michelle Griep

It's snowy. It's cold. And I'm slugging back a hot mug of ginger tea. Yeah, it's good, but my real favorite beverage of choice? Wow. That's a tough call. I'm going to go with a pot of French press crafted Burundi or Peru with a splash of heavy whipping cream. Nectar of the gods, I say.

But a lot of other writers tended to lean toward the hooch. Here is a list of some famous authors and their beverage of choice . . .
Jack Kerouac


Jack Kerouac

Favorite Drink: Margarita

Recipe: 1 Tbsp. powdered sugar, 1.5 oz. tequila, .5 oz. triple sec, lime juice, lime wedge, salt, ice cubes


Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway

Favorite Drink: Mojito

Recipe: 1.25 oz. light rum, soda water, 1 oz. lime juice, 12 mint pieces, 1.5 oz. sugar syrup




Tennessee Williams

Tennessee Williams

Favorite Drink: Ramos Fizz

Recipe: 1 oz. fresh lemon juice, 1/2 oz. fresh lime juice, 1 egg white, 1 Tbsp. sugar, 2 oz. gin, 1/2 oz. cream




F. Scott Fitzgerald

F. Scott Fitzgerald

Favorite Drink: Gin Rickey

Recipe: 2 oz. gin, .75 oz. lime juice, top with club soda





Jack London

Jack London

Favorite Drink:
Martini

Recipe: 2 oz. gin, 1/4 oz. dry vermouth, 1/8 oz. olive brine, 3 green olives, small wedge of lemon




So, what about you? What's your favorite drink? Feel free to leave us a recipe in the comment section.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

And You Think You Have a Book Problem?

post by Michelle Griep
So I was toodling around the internet today because, hey, what else is there to do? Don't judge me.

Anyway, I came across some information that made me feel really good about my charred credit card that's still smoking from the last time I went to the bookstore. Apparently what I spend is chump change compared to what others dole out. Here are the top 5 most expensive sellers from AbeBooks in 2015 . . .

Storia Naturale Degli Uccelli by Manetti
What would you pay for a book about birds that contains 600 hand-colored engraved plates of our feathered friends? Well, too bad you didn't scoop this one up for $191,000 like someone esle did because now the price has skyrocketed to $450,000. Bird lovers. Sheesh. Go figure.

Pangeometria by Nikolai Ivanovich Lobachevskii
Too late all you math lovers out there. You missed out on this sweet deal. This book sold for $34,245 and there aren't any more left.

Now this one, a first edition signed by the author, I might've been tempted to buy. But my checkbook wasn't, not for $25,000.

My first question is this: is orchidaceous a real word or is that totally made up?
Second question: what's the attraction over hand-colored plates?
This puppy sold for $24,643 and it's all about orchids.

Plantes de la France by Jaume Saint-Hilaire
Nature books seem to be the trendiest of the trendy. This first edition has 1,000 illustrations but they're not hand-colored. They were engraved on copper and then printed in color. And all that work would cost you $22,549.

Suddenly I'm not feeling so bad about that $25 hardcover I picked up over at Amazon.

Monday, February 1, 2016

The Finished Manuscript: A Love/ Hate Relationship

post by Michelle Griep
I just finished my, umm, let's see . . . I think this is my 6th or 7th manuscript. They all blur together after awhile. Want to know what it feels like? Picture yourself running top speed for 45 minutes on a treadmill. You're all sweaty and nasty by the end of it. You kind of feel like dying, but then again, as you cool down, exhilaration sets in and you're pretty sure you can conquer the world. You hate it but at the same time you love it.

That's what finishing a manuscript feels like.

You love that you persevered.
But you hate that your synapses are no longer firing and you're pretty much brain dead.

You love the characters you created. They are part of you.
But you hate that you have to say good-bye and shove them out the door and into the world.

You love the warm satisfaction filling your tummy like hot muffins on a cold morning.
But you hate the accompanying unease of oh-my-freaking-stars-what-will-I-do-now?

You love that this just might be your best book ever.
But you hate the creeping suspicion that your editor will immediately shoot you an email asking you what kind of drugs you were on while you wrote that steaming piece of literary manure.

You love that you're done editing the dang thing.
But you hate the fact you'll still have to go through it all again at least twice more.

You love being a writer.
But you hate the doubt that you'll ever be able to pull off another novel again.

There you have it. A bit psychotic? Yep. Maybe even a tad bi-polar. Wait a minute . . . you weren't under the impression that writers are normal, were you?

Friday, January 29, 2016

Writerly Expectations

post by Michelle Griep
Expect to fail. A lot.
But that doesn't mean you're a failure. It means your writing failed, which is good news because it provides you the opportunity to start over again.

Expect to rage about technology.
It's inevitable you will lose some copy. Sometimes a lot. A glitch will happen and whammo! Fried mother board or mega-virus or you find out Kylo Ren used the force on your dang computer. At some point you will have to recreate lost copy and that's okay because it just might be better the second time around.

Expect to feel like quitting.
Everyone does. Every writer frequently thinks their writing is a heap of fresh elephant excretion. But just because you feel it doesn't mean you have to act on it. Shoot. I feel like eating an entire batch of chocolate chip cookie dough practically every day but I don't. Well, sometimes I do, but hey, I'm human.

Expect to dance on mountain tops and and lie belly-up in valleys.
The writing life is a rollercoaster. Victories walk hand-in-hand with defeats. It's kind of like being bipolar but without medication.

Expect to lower your expectations.
Every starry-eyed writer starts out with dreams of seeing his books on the shelves, contracts galore, and adoring fans busting down Barnes & Noble doors to snag a signed copy of his latest bestseller. Yeah. About that? Uh, nope. After a few years, those dreams dumb-down into something more manageable, like maybe getting your mom to read your latest manuscript.

Expect to work your fanny off.
Writing is not glamorous. It's shutting yourself off from the world and diving into a pretend story land. And once the story is finally writtten, you get to edit and edit then edit some more. Then there's marketing and squeaking in craft books and workshops so you can write even better.

Expect satisfaction.
True, there are a lot of negatives in a writer's life, but when that one reader contacts you and tells you what a difference your story made in their life . . . ahh. There's nothing quite like that feeling. Own it.

 
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