Unmasking a Member of the Story Cartel


The biz part of the book biz ain’t easy for authors, with publishing going every which way, from hybrid, to agency-assisted, to indie to traditional. However, many counter arguments can be compellingly made that it’s the greatest time ever for authors to take control of their writing careers, with self-publishing and its variants giving writers much more control (and responsibility) over how and when their work is published and marketed.

Clearly, it’s no secret that even authors with traditional industry contracts are expected to do most of their own—if not all—marketing these days. Which brings me to my own keyboard conniption: it’s hard for individual, unknown authors to get any traction with the reading public, particularly by the moldy (and expensive) advertising approaches of yore, now easily ignored. For my short story collection, I’ve done some extended rounds with things like press releases, Goodreads giveaways, Amazon KDP Select promotions, offering the book to a long list of reviewers, wrestling rabid wombats in sports bars and much more, and haven’t made much of a sales blip.

Words, Free for the Taking

Few sales result in few reviews, and Amazon reviews, despite some justified vilification (see below), can be an influential social proof to induce book purchases. That’s why I’ve engaged Story Cartel to pimp, er, promote free downloads of my book (.mobi, .epub and PDF) for a limited time. The site lets prospective readers get free copies of books, and requests that the readers supply a review. There’s no obligation on the part of the readers to review the book; if they do review, readers are requested to provide an honest review, and to reveal that they downloaded the book as a free promotion, so that there’s no taint of sock-puppetry in the review process.

So, for the next 18 days or so, the story collection is there for a free download. Check it out if you’re into it, and if the mood strikes, write a review, even if you want to report that the stories stunk up the joint. (Do so, and I promise not to sell your email addresses to any blackhat coders in Uzbekistan, though I won’t name my favorite baseball glove after you.)

Readers, dear things. Can’t get enough of ’em.

Bonus Travel Traipsings

I had a few travel pieces published in the last little while:

Here’s one on the glories of Pinnacles National Park
Here’s one on the glories of the Florida Keys
Here’s one on the glories of narcotic drinks on Micronesian islands

A Short Story Collection Is Born: Flowering Has Blossomed

Literary Longing: This Book Needs A Mind to Mate With

Do you remember those peddlers-of-all-things that were often depicted in movies of a bygone era, the guys who had a ramshackle cart tipping to the side with a boggling bounty of goods? These were the sellers of battered pots, a hank of yarn, a chisel, some kind of tonic nostrum that couldn’t cure a statue, and maybe hidden under a blanket, a barrel of home brew that would melt that statue down? You know, the folks that would travel from town to town selling bits and pieces, trading tales and then move on? Yeah, those guys.

I feel a little like one of those guys today, because I’m traveling through the ether to offer you Flowering and Other Stories, a freshly published collection of my short fiction. The metaphor isn’t exactly accurate, because though the book is chockablock full of tales of different shapes and sizes, both tinsnips and horse halters, there is some thematic unity among the mongrels. Essentially, these are stories about people in some kind of trouble—with society, with each other, with their very selves. Tensions in love, tensions in personal ambition, tensions in all the colors of the emotional quilts we wear through our days. For every breakthrough, a breakdown.

So, this collection is a cart with a horse, but it’s drawn by conflict—both hobbled and exalted by those things that make us human. It’s available through all the usual suspects, such as Amazon and Barnes and Noble, and on the Kindle; a bit later on the Nook. (The official release for print is May 22, so it won’t ship until then; the Kindling is available now.)

And if you do grab one, and feel inspired enough to write an online review, I’ll steer my cart your direction and darn (never damn) your socks for free. If I can just find that thread…