AuthorGraph - Signed Copies for Kindle Users!

Since the day that I published "Here Be Monsters" nearly two months ago, I have commiserated with Kindle users about my inability to sign copies of my book for them...no more.

I found out about AuthorGraph from an author friend of mine, and it sounds like a neat idea to fill a need in the ebook market.  People can visit the AuthorGraph website, find an ebook by a favorite author, and send a request for a "signed copy.

What you get is an electronic document that can be stored in your ereader, along with the ebook.  You can get just the author's signature, or ask for an "inscription" as well.  In order for it to work, you will need to follow a few simple directions to set up your Kindle (or other ereader device) to receive the electronic signature and inscription file (I was able to do it in about a minute for my Kindle on the amazon website).

From my end, it couldn't have been easier.  I entered some info about "Here Be Monsters", along with some contact information about myself, and the AuthorGraph website takes care of everything else.

You can follow THIS LINK or click on the button below:

I'll be posting the button above on the sidebar of my website's front page.

I think that it's a really neat idea, and I can't wait to send my first AuthorGraph!




Tyler's in Australia!

I noticed a comment about "Here Be Monsters" on GoodReads.com the other day, and wanted to reply to the reader.  She commented, as have a couple of other people, that the language and grammar of the book were at times distracting her as she read, and wondered if my editor had missed these issues or if I had ignored my editor (although she stated it much more politely than I've just done).

I sent her a message through GoodReads thanking her for reading the book, explaining that my editor and I had talked a great deal about the language and grammatical structure of the book, but that I had held fast in the use of the (admittedly sometimes annoying) tangled and forked thought process of the protagonist, Tyler Cunningham.

I went a step further, and apologized for any impact that this device had on her enjoyment of the book.  I wrote the book for me, but if that was the end of the story, it would not have been published (and a copy never would have ended up in her hands in Sydney, Australia!)...I want readers of "Here Be Monsters" to enjoy what they read.  It serves me nothing to have a book that remains true to my vision, but is so off-putting to readers that they choose not to finish it.

I heard back from her this morning, and she related that she is enjoying the book more, and noticing the particular device that had bothered her (in her case, the "/" backslash) less as she got further into the book.  It made me ridiculously happy both to hear back from her (a reader in AUSTRALIA!) and to hear that she was enjoying the book.

I've been learning about Tyler and bookwriting and my readers and myself everyday during the process of writing, and editing and publishing and getting feedback.

The relationship between author and protagonist is very interesting to me.  I know some things about Tyler that my readers do not...details that I wrote down when planning the book that never made it into the book.  My readers know things about Tyler that I did not know...he has been diagnosed by many as being on the ASD, although some argue that his odd upbringing and the events of 9/11 have shaped him more than his biology.  In writing and planning the short pieces that I'm working on this winter, I'm finding out more about Tyler from him, as he goes about his business and it comes out in the form of words on my laptop screen.

The relationship between readers of "Here Be Monsters" and me is interesting to me in ways that I couldn't have known about 2 months ago.  I had a vision of the book, Tyler came out of my head in a slightly different way, and readers have a third, slightly different, view of the world that Tyler explores in HBM.  Perception is reality, and the lens through which you read a book determines the reality of that book.  I had always thought that I read a book, and that it was the same book that my wife or students or parents or friends read...but it's not.  The book is different for each reader, in much the same way that the world is different for each person who explores it.

Most of all, though, I just think it's cool that someone in Australia is reading my book!




Thoughts on Libraries...

Libraries are Magic!


I remember the feel and smell and wonder of entering the Main Branch of the New York Public Library for the first time as a boy.  That book-y smell still gets to me on a cellular level every time I enter a library or used bookstore (books that have been handled and loved smell different than new books in a bookstore).  The feeling that there were a nearly infinite number of fantastic books to read blew me away as a youngster, and still does today.

Kids learn to have fun with books in libraries...to explore the shelves in search of the perfect one to borrow...to crash on a beanbag chair or the scratchy library-carpet for a while and read while Mom or Dad finds something three stacks over...to listen to an author or other lover of books read with feeling you hadn't imagined possible.

I have supported libraries all of my life, in word and deed, cash and votes, and am constantly borrowing books from the libraries in my life (the school I work for, the town library, and the NYPL).  I was excited to bring my son Ben to the library for his first visit when he was tiny, and can still remember the way he looked as he realized that he could read any/all of those books...blissfully overwhelmed!

It's because of all of this, this feeling that I have, that I'm a friend of my libraries (and libraries in general), that I was surprised to find that I don't agree with what seems to be an accepted tenet of library canon...

The party line would appear to be that loaning out books does not deprive authors of sales.

This seems a ridiculous proposition to me.

I borrow lots of books from my libraries, in both print and ebook format.  After I read them, I return (or delete) them.  If I want to read them again, I'll borrow them again. I don't buy books that I borrow from the library.  It may be that I'm different from most library users, but I'd want to see some compelling evidence before I believed it.

I love libraries, and think that they're a wonderful resource; I feel that way even after publishing my first novel.

I can accept that some money is being taken out of my pocket for some greater good, but have trouble being told that it isn't being taken.




Valentine's Day Poem

Just because the day is crass and commercial doesn't mean that you have to be...



Book Clubs

Last night a local Adirondack book club discussed my book, "Here Be Monsters".

This group is comprised of about 10 women who live and work in the Tri-Lakes, and meet once a month (with food and drink) to discuss a book that they've spent the last month reading. They read all sorts of books, mostly fiction, and last month they read my book. This had me feeling proud and excited and nervous...all at once.

A part of me wishes that I could have been a fly on the wall at their gathering, but I did get a pretty detailed report from a friend who's a member/participant in the club. They enjoyed the book, and had a fun time reading and talking about it amongst themselves. I got some useful feedback about my voice and characters and pacing and structure. I also heard about a couple of errors that they found in the book (which I regret, although I haven't read a totally "clean" book in the last 5 years).

The most amazing thing for me was knowing that a smart group of people, all of them with a deep love for reading (or snacks and company), appreciated and enjoyed my book even when compared with the other books that they've been reading in recent months/years. They read great books by great authors, and "Here Be Monsters" could sit at the grown-up table with the other "real" books.

A part of me has been protecting me from the slings and arrows of worry or doubt about my writing with a shield comprised mostly of arrogance and ego, with a thin veneer of disdain for those who would dare to judge (negatively, positive judgments are OK) me and/or my novel (completely unfair, but it got me through some initial worries), but the positive feedback from this book club (even more than the good reviews from Amazon and GoodReads) has helped me get comfortable with the fact that I've written a good book.

The most important thing to me is that people enjoy "Here Be Monsters", and want more of the same...this is important to me because I like making people happy, and because I love writing.

 I'm working on a couple of short Tyler Cunningham pieces right now, and am in the early stages of planning the next novel (using feedback from reviews and this book club to hopefully improve the storytelling), and I look forward to sharing more of my writing as time goes by.

I'm a lucky and happy and grateful man, getting to do something that I love, being generally lauded for it, and even making a little money while I'm at it.




Yesterday's Book Signing

This is not what my book signing for "Here Be Monsters" was like yesterday.  I signed and sold 7 copies of my book, and talked to maybe twice that many people about my book and/or writing. 

I still consider it a success.  There had to be a "first" one of these events, and this was a nice way to do it.  The Community Store in Saranac Lake is a local treasure, and the people working there were friendly and helpful.  I tried out a couple of different approaches to interacting with people who came in to shop.  If I had to guess, I would say that my sales accounted for half the business that the store did during the time that I was there...it was a pretty slow morning all around.

I brought more books than I needed, but that's not a problem.  I had water and altoids and plenty of pens (who knew, but with 7 sales, 2 pens walked away).  I varied my level of contact and friendliness with people entering the store, but noticed no significant difference in how they reacted to the table and the books and to me.  Some people would avoid eye-contact and skirt the table (and me) by a wide margin, while others made a bee-line to the books and me. 

I had more fun than I would have thought, not being the kind of guy who enjoys circulating at a party, talking with stangers.  The people who approached me were interested in the book and/or the writing process, and it gave us some common ground to establish a rapport.

The next biggie for me is a reading, which may be coming up in a few months if things work out...time for more research!




My First Book Signing...

I've got a book signing this morning at the Community Store in Saranac Lake, NY from 9:30am until noon...and I'm terrified!

What if nobody comes?  What if they're mean?  What if people do come, but would rather buy funny hats for the Winter Carnival than a book by an author they've never heard of?  What if friends and family come around to give me moral support which turns to pity an hour in as the table and my books grow cobwebs?

I can't control any of that.  I've written a great book that should be relevant and interesting to most of the people that walk through the door, but I can't control what they do.  I can, however, control my side of the equation (a little), and that's what I've done by doing some homework on book signings.

I've read some articles, and talked to some authors, and am prepared (at least supplywise) for the signing today.   I will report back after the book signing as to which tips were most useful, which didn't work for me, and which I would add to the list.

The big take home message for me was twofold: be prepared (books, pens, drinks, camera, mints, etc.), and be willing to engage the people who come by actively.

Article #1, Article #2, Article #3

Thanks for reading, wish me good luck, and if you're in Saranac Lake today (2/9/2013) stop by the Community Store between 9:30am and noon to say hi and maybe buy a book!



NCPR Interview

I did a interview with Todd Moe of North Country Public Radio (NCPR) this morning, and believe that there will be a short piece on tomorrow morning between 8:30am and 9:30am.  We talked about "Here Be Monsters" and writing and reading and the Adirondacks while the dogs milled around my feet asking to go in and out and in and out and in and out.

It feels odd to talk about my book and myself as if we're important or newsworthy, but I do love the idea of more people hearing about, and subsequently reading, "Here Be Monsters", so it seems a worthwhile way to spend a personal day away from my "day" job.

Thanks for reading (and listening!),



Novelette Progress, Interview, Signing, Sales...

I'm in the middle of writing a Tyler Cunningham novelette.  Writing in this short format is an entirely different feel than the novel was...I have less time and space to develop plot and characters and background, but I'm trying to work using that as an opportunity rather than a constraint.  I'm writing cut-down prose, and hoping that the change (relative to the novel) works as a pacing device to help pull readers through the story.

I'm giving a radio interview with NCPR on Wednesday, and doing a book-signing this weekend in Saranac Lake (at The Community Store), and dropping some books off to a local museum and also the Lake Clear Lodge for sale to their patrons/guests.  I'm uncomfortable with the promotions side of self-publishing, but it's a necessary part of the process if I want human eyes on my words (which I do).

I've heard a self-pub statistic that 97% of self-pub books never sell more than 97 copies, and "Here Be Monsters" did that (and more) in the first month it was available...this makes me happy and proud and...eager to take a break from promotion for a bit, and get back to writing a couple of days a week.




Snowy Saturday Dreaming

I spent a delightful day yesterday at Whiteface, skiing with my students and dreaming about the way that life could be for me as a writer.

I had a great time writing "Here Be Monsters" last summer, and working with my editor throughout the fall to get it ready for publication on New Year's Day, and would love to repeat that process again next summer (and in subsequent summers until the end of time).

I have started the planning process for the next Tyler novel, but in the meantime am interested in writing a couple of connected/related short stories and novelettes; these smaller scale writing projects work well with my schedule during the school year (and teaching is one of the loves of my life, as well as paying the bills and keeping us in doctors when needed).

To whit, my dream is to keep teaching (although if we're really talking dreams, I'd love for NY and the FED to get their heads out of their asses and my classroom a bit), write a novel every summer, and a couple of shorter pieces during the schoolyear.

I would love to keep exploring the Tyler Cunningham character, but can't tell at this point how many novels and stories he's got in him. I will certainly keep writing about the Adirondacks and the outdoors, as they're what I know best. I enjoy reading nasty books with some twists and tech in them, so I can see those featuring large in my writing future, even if Tyler eventually develops cholesterol or diabetes issues that remove him from the thneeding business.

At this point, typing from my kitchen table with dogs at my feet, coffee at my side, and the boy reading on the nearby couch, my writing dreams seem attainable and sustainable; this makes me a lucky man indeed.

Have a good weekend everyone!