Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Sociopath?

I just want to toot my own horn here for a minute. I have e-published my book, Sociopath?, on Smashwords and Amazon.

From the time he was a toddler, people said Rafe Vincennes reminded them of a black cat. Rafe's moral code is similar to a cat's as well in that he doesn't have one. In addition to adventuresome sex, Rafe has a penchant for visiting extreme retribution on those who wrong him. A champion race car driver, Rafe drives as daringly as he lives. 

I have to say that, as a computer dummie, preparing a book for e-publishing is no easy task. It has to be formatted just a precise way. Smashwords gives you guidelines for how to do it but like so many things electronic, their instructions start by assuming you're in junior high school while I'm still struggling to get through kindergarten.

Nevertheless, I got it done with a little help from smarter friends. It has been downloaded 658 times from Smashwords and shared with 21 libraries, which I gather is an excellent response to a brand new fiction author with a first book. It is free through Smashwords so I hope some of you will take the time to pay a visit. Warning: extremely graphic content. As the title implies, Rafe is not a straight arrow!

Amazon insists you charge something so I went with the lowest price of 99 cents. I haven't checked lately to see where the book is with Amazon but they pay 35% royalties so I think I've probably made a couple bucks so far!

Of course, when you're a newbie novelist, the money is beside the point, getting people to read what you write is what it's all about and hopefully, liking it and even better, letting you know. Sociopath? has gotten some great reviews and has been 5-star rated by several readers.

I had no idea publishing would be such a Catch 22. I wrote a syndicated column on politics and social commentary for a decade. I've wrote a popular column for my local paper for over 20 years and now write a weekly column for the Logansport Pharos-Tribune and blog frequently for NASCAR.com. I've written for Newsweek, Sports Illustrated and USA Today. One of my columns won a first place in the Indiana Presswoman's competition and then went on to win the national competition. Three of my columns have appeared in textbooks as an example of superior column writing.

None of this impresses fiction editors or agents. Publishing companies only wanted to see agented material; agents will only consider your book if you've already published a book. Does e-publishing count? I don't know.

Beyond that, publishers and agents want your work to fit in a tidy little genre. If someone does manage to write a bestseller about vampires, then they all want vampires. They want you to be the next Harry Potter or Twilight or Janet Evanovich, while you're more interested in being yourself. Readers have told me that Rafe Vincennes is a unique "hero". It thrilled me to hear that but unique is not a good word in publishing.

So, e-publishing seemed to be my best bet. I'm old and I'm old-school. In my heart, I still hope to parley that into "real" books.