Friday, December 25, 2009

Malady Manor

I sent off Malady Manor for final corrections yesterday. I will have the proof when I return from vacation. I like the book, but what can you expect--I wrote it. I have always felt that it had little to offer people outside the recovery community, but my sister, who has no connection or sympathy for the twelve-step world, liked it for both the humor and the pathos. She wanted me to send it to Oprah. I don't watch Oprah, but I understand that she is the greatest bookseller on the planet.

My blog about Oregon Elder Law (guardianships, Medicaid, estate planning--that sort of thing) seems to be working itself up the search engines. I thought it would be straight work, but it is turning out to be a lot of fun to write.

I am back to worrying about typos. I am certain to have some left in Malady Manor, like I did in The Duke of Morrison Street. I have had a number of friends, relatives and legal assistants assure me that they are dynamite proof readers, but they have all turned out to be as bad at it as I am. I am going to have to bite the bullet and hire professionals. I am not generally a fan of professionalism, but sometimes you have to go there. I have an eager Indian woman who will do it for a reasonable price, but turning it over to someone for whom English is a second language scares me. I don't imagine there is a warranty.

The internet has a lot of domestic proof readers, copy editors, and people of that ilk offering their skills for sale. I may hire one of them if I can find one who is not too much of a pain in the ass to hire. Most of the ads they write make them sound like pissed off artists, or pissed off something else, who are doing proof reading until their true vocations start to pay.

However I approach it, Malady Manor should be for sale some time in January.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Amazon Novel Contest

I still struggle with the "why am I doing this" question. Do I want the ego strokes from being famous (or maybe admired in a small circle)? Do I want to make money? Do I want success--whatever that is? Do I want to make a living sitting at a computer writing stories? I don't know the answer to any of these questions.

I looked at the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest. I qualify, being self-published. If I won, I would get publicity for my books. The process for entering involves making a pitch, submitting a sample, writing a short but interesting bio--all the same things a writer does to convince an agent or a publisher to consider a work.  Amazon will accept 10,000 entries and pass them through the hands of some published writers to come up with a winner. It looks like a lot of work to enter with a very small chance of getting anything out of it.

And what does winning mean in this context? It means a publishing contract with Penguin in which the writer will receive a $15,000 advance against future royalties. I have worked some hard-ass ten-dollar-an-hour jobs in my life, so I know the value of $15,000. On the other hand, it is not that hard at my current job to make $15,000. No matter how you cut it, writing is a crappy way to make money. Not only does lawyering make good money, it is usually more fun.

The thing I dislike about the contest--or the send your query letter to an agent plan--is that I turn over control to someone else and then sit on my hands waiting for someone to give me a prize. The loss of control doesn't seem worth the potential reward.

Which leads back to why am I doing this anyway. I still don't know, but I am heading to my cabin for a winter vacation eagerly awaiting some quiet time to sit at the keyboard and put another 15,000 words into my newest Leopold Larson story. It is becoming clear that I am not a rational being.

Monday, December 21, 2009


I got a report today saying that two copies of The Duke of Morrison Street sold on Amazon. It was probably my mother.

I friend to whom I gave a copy ran into me and said he enjoyed the book. My friend was positive, but wondered if it had much to offer people who werern't one of us--recovering alcoholics. I wonder the same thing. My legal assistant is almost finished, and she seems to like it. She isn't recovering from anything, but she works for me. What is she supposed to say?

The good part--at least so far-- is that everyone wants to talk about some aspect of the book: who dunnit, missed typos, whether the characters are comprehensible to non-addicts. That is great news for me, because all I wanted was for my readers to be able to finish the damn thing without getting so bored they threw the book against the wall. In that modest respect I may have succeeded, and the crowd I write for is not long on patience.

It looks like I will get some word-of-mouth marketing.

Some of my anxiety about this whole project is resolving. I am not so worried about selling books anymore. That will be a long term project. I don't have to depend upon the book to put food on my table. Foregoing the send-a-letter-to-an-agent-and-wait-to-hit-the-big-time now feels right to me. I made the decision to start Salish Ponds because I doubted I could find an agent who was able and willing to market my book to my people. Maybe there is one, but  the chances of finding that person and thereafter making it big seem too small to warrant turning over the project to other people. I give up, of course, my infinitesimal chance to be rich and famous, as well of the potential ego satisfaction of having someone else publishing my art. In return I get control and a life without rejection letters.

All bargains are tough, but today I am satisfied with this one.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

My Video Ad

It was cold today, so I used my little Flip camera to make a video ad for The Duke of Morrison Street.

Friday, December 4, 2009

A box of books

A box of forty books--The Duke of Morrison Street--arrived at the office yesterday. The box was heavy. I sent off a copy to the Library of Congress and one to Margo, the person to whom it is dedicated. Now I am at a loss as to what to do. I planned putting a "buy me" button on the Salish Ponds web page, but am considering leaving sales up to Amazon. Do I want the small extra profit per copy that I could make by mailing copies from my garage? I can't decide. Having my own little distribution center--assuming anyone wants to buy the thing--has it charms. On the other hand I have to sell a whole lot of copies to make what I can make in a couple of hours of practicing law.

I sent in Malady Manor for a final proof, so whatever decisions I make with The Duke of Morrison Street will have to apply to the second book as well. I am probably getting ahead of myself, considering that no one except my mother has offered to buy even a single copy of either one, but thinking about these things keeps me out of the bars.

What seems more important is getting out and selling the book. I will not be good at that. Selling the book is selling myself, and I am at heart, shy. You might not think so, having this blog and the web site and all that, but I do all that sitting alone at home or in my office.