For the past six months or so I’ve been putting work into Fade to Black – my second novel which is technically my first. In many ways, it’s better than … Continue reading The End.
I’ve been thinking a lot about my first book lately. The sales are still coming in, but not nearly at the pace which they were at the release.
I’m currently sitting around the 250 mark or so. Copies sold, that is. I’m considering this impressive since I have no marketing presence of which to speak of besides some 4000 odd followers on the good ol’ Twitter machine.
I think, though, that it’s my fault that I’m sitting at 250. I’ve been remiss lately at selling the book that I wrote. When Far from Ordinary first came out I swear I would make one or two posts a week for the purpose of advertising that the book was out and for sale.
Now… I haven’t done one of those in a while. Somewhere, I know, my good friend and Media Director Carl is scowling at me.
Yes, I’ve made you my Media Director BC. Congratulations! I hear the benefits are fantastic!*
*Benefits will be fantastic in 8-10 years of solid sales growth.
*M. James Murray takes no liability in the supposed offering of a competitive benefits plan.
So why did I stop?
Honestly, the easier answer is that I didn’t want to annoy people. I’ve seen those posts before – hell, I’ve been annoyed by those posts before.
“Hey, I haven’t seen you in over ten years, but you should totally buy this subscription to BeachBod from me! It’s, like, SO good to catch up!”
So by nature, I’m reluctant to do it. Not that mine has to sound like the pretty godawful example I quoted above, but I worry that they would to some people. And yet it’s an important part of the sales process.
I taught sales, once upon a time, and it’s good for me to remember that every once in a while.
Nobody is going to buy your product if they don’t know what it is, or if they don’t trust you.
So how in the hell is anyone going to bother spending ten dollars and fifty cents on Amazon for Far from Ordinary if I don’t talk about it?
There comes a point in every young author’s life where he (or she) gets frustrated with some of the offerings on the store at bookshelves. The other day I went to Chapters and pulled out a few, read a few chapters.
I am telling you, with no shade of ego, that I am writing better today – as an independent author – than these folks are. And yet they are sitting on the bookshelf at Chapters and I am not.
It’s a humbling moment, to be sure, but it’s also important for a few reasons:
- I need to keep pushing. The only difference between a signed author and an unsigned author is that the signed author didn’t give up
You see these examples from time to time. I got frustrated with the querying process after about three or four months. Some people stick with it for years. Years! You’ve got to either be incredibly self-assured about the strength of your work or incredibly stubborn to keep in the query trenches for that long.
But then I see their persistence pay off, sometimes. Maybe the lesson here is that “you mustn’t lose that spark of madness”
2. I’m not as good as I think I could be.
Note that I didn’t say “as I think I am” here. I know that there’s still a TON of room for me to grow in my craft and I hope that I’ll always think that. After all, the moment you stop thinking that is the moment in which you lose your edge.
Don’t get me wrong, any author who finishes a book deserves a pat on the back (and probably a shot of expensive whiskey). I’m not saying they’re bad, I’m saying that I think I’m just as good.
So regardless of how I feel about the state of their craft, I’m still on the outside looking in.
Now, this becomes important later on because a large of the young author’s journey (maybe every author’s journey, no matter the tenure) is the validation which they need.
I always get a kick out of running into people who have read my book. The conversation usually goes like this:
“I actually liked it!” As though they were expecting to not, and they were pleasantly surprised that it was not half bad. I love that they go out of their way to mention that. It really does make me feel all warm and bubbly inside.
So to those who have reached out, THANK YOU! You have no idea how much that means to me.
It’s just one part of the picture, though. Those people who I tend to run into who have bought my book know me. That means that they’re biased – for good or for bad – by their previous interactions with me.
I think that it’s a completely different kind of compliment when a stranger – someone who doesn’t care if you take it well or badly – compliments that.
I always talk about the 3 to 11 ratio when I’m in class. It’s a people theory that talks about how people LOVE to talk about the negative. The 3 is referring to the 3 people that an average person talks to when they come across something AWESOME. The 11 refers to the people you talk to when something irks you the wrong way.
People are almost 4X more likely to talk about the bad than the good. That number has always made me shake my head.
So when I get a great review on Amazon from someone who I’ve never met I appreciate it on a deeper level.
Reviews are, after all, the best way to support me after you purchase my novels. They help me get recognized in Amazon’s algorithm so that more people who have never heard of this upstart author M. James Murray can buy a book or two or twelve.
Long story short?
If you haven’t already, please look at buying Far from Ordinary. I love you all for the support you’ve shown and continue to show.
Leave a review!
You guys are the best.
So what did I learn this week?
- I will probably regret making BC my Media Director. He tends to keep me honest. So for those of you who enjoy these weekly posts, that’s probably a good thing. For me, that’s probably going to be *ahem* less than ideal
- I am truly fortunate to be with somebody who is perfectly okay with me ignoring her for three to four hours on average a night so that I can write. The struggles of dating an author
- The MAVERICK trailer dropped this week. It literally gave me goosebumps. Check it out.
- Why the hell do car dealerships close so early? I don’t want to take a personal day to drive that Subaru, Karen!
- New York is less than a month away! When did THAT happen? I’m going to a writer’s conference in NYC. How cool is THAT!
It was a bubblegum sunset at the lake when I started reading the Princess Bride. It was a perfect night. We had just opened up the cabin and I was … Continue reading Sometimes the Movie is Better
My second book is done. It’s been done for a while now. We are sitting strong at 67 000 words, which is approximately the same size as Far From Ordinary when it went to the presses.
Ten years later. More revisions that I’m proud to admit to. But there it is.
The characters are feeling developed. The themes are there, woven into the story. The writing is as strong as it’s going to be. I’ve even written “the end”
“So when can I buy in?” I can hear you thinking, hopefully.
The truth is that even though it is done, it’s not finished. Couple things here:
1 – Big ups to my beta readers! The first wave included my brother and a few people who I met on Twitter. Their feedback has been instrumental in shaping what the manuscript looks like today.
(Sidebar! It’s amazing how the internet connects people. When I was a kid it was all about not talking to people online. Now we use the internet to summon strangers to pick us up in their cars and to find people to date.)
2 – There is a certain point where you need to give up the ghost and call the novel finished. Otherwise, I’m going to be tinkering with this thing for the next ten years of my life.
3 – That point hasn’t happened yet.
I think that the flow needs to be better. I think that I need to define the main antagonist more, make him or her more human, more relatable.
You don’t get the evil Dr. Claw type villains anymore, after all. In order for your audience to believe in your antagonist as a character, you need to give them motivation – something that makes sense so that the people reading go “Oh, that’s why!”
Take Thanos, for instance. He’s not after the unbelievably vague goal of universal domination. He doesn’t even want to rule. He just wants balance, for the natural order of nature to be reset.
Click on the above link at your own peril – there be spoilers.
The more you humanize your villains, the more people will relate to them. I need to give mine MORE of this.
That is something that I needed to improve on with Far From Ordinary as well, but maybe that’s not a road I should go down right now.
Finally, I need to figure out how to finish the book. For a little bit of context, the idea for Fade to Black came to me way back in 2010, which means I’ve been writing it for almost 9.5 years.
No matter what I had going on I would always come back to it, chipping away slowly across the years. Over the years my idea of what the ending should “look like” changed when I thought about it.
The version of Microsoft Word which I used changed a few times as well.
Look for Fade to Black in bookstores and places of ill repute soon. Hopefully.
Fun Runs on Sunday
I stumbled into an organized running event this morning. Literally just stumbled upon, not like the time where I was having a few drinks and was convinced to run in the Manitoba Marathon the next morning.
I was jogging with my training partner and this race started up out of nowhere. Like, literally out of nowhere. It was a quiet Sunday morning and then there were a whole bunch of people who looked like they were in midseason form emerging from the path across the road.
So what else could we have done? We joined the race. Running is so funny that way. You’re alone for 99% of the time, so it’s a solitary pastime. So what do we do on a race day? Line up on the side of the road and cheer on these people who are pushing themselves if not to the point of exhaustion, at least the point of chaffing.
And let me tell you: chaffing ain’t no fun.
It was pretty awesome to have people cheering us on and, if they were suspicious of our lack of BIB numbers, no one said anything.
I had to kick up my running pace a bit as well. The human body works wonders that way. I can feel like I couldn’t take another step, but as soon as someone is cheering me on I can dig in a bit deeper and push myself farther.
Running sucks, but it’s better when there are people around.
Pretty sure that, going forward, I only want to jog if people are standing by with water every couple of kilometres.
Also, the faces of the volunteers when we jogged off the trail was priceless.
What did we learn this week?
- When you’re thirty, you need a nap of at least an hour and a half after a long run. Don’t @ me – I don’t make the rules
- I wanted to make a donation to the race – I DID have two cups of water after all. But I couldn’t find them. If anybody knows, @ me.
- Make your antagonists people for best results. Who’d a thunk it!
- It’s only nice in Winnipeg when I’m not wearing shorts. It’s only cold in Winnipeg when I wear shorts. Don’t @ me – I don’t make the rules.
- Every writer is worried about the length of their book. It’s always either too short, or too long. Sigmund Freud would have a field day analyzing a writer, I’m sure.
“You need to sign my garden hose,” my friend Carl said. I looked up, feeling confusion bloom across my face. “Um, what?” This is it, isn’t it? This is the … Continue reading Garden Hoses and Memories