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

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2 thoughts on “Unmasking a Member of the Story Cartel

  1. Since I’m watching Ken Burns’ “National Parks” right now, your article on Pinnacles gives me an itch. The good kind.

    I’ve never felt any compunction to go to Florida. Until now. The African Queen, Jimmy Buffett’s Blue Heaven (I’ll pretend it’s the one he was singing about) and all the rest of the Parrothead stuff I pretend is beneath me, when it’s actually within me.

    Drugged taxi drivers and greasy grey goo. Somehow, the article on Kosrae et al inspires less of a travel urge. Perhaps when the four of us take an exotic trip together it’ll be Pinnacles or the Keys rather than Micronesia.

  2. Joel, Pinnacles is otherworldly, but it’s a beguiling world. Get your inner pterodactyl on and go. Florida (and particularly the Keys), like Texas, seems to be a country/state unto its own: I could have written a rich article on all the crazy signs, billboards and roadside attractions I saw alone.

    And Micronesian islands are fascinating. Strange, and not always comfortable conglomerates of old ways and new, and the new are mostly American ways, since we plunked ourselves on those islands in WWII and have been paying for the plunking ever since. But the missionaries got their first, for better or worse. Beautiful though, and great for a daily steam bath.

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