I’m pleased to report that the audiobook of Diary of a Small Fish has just launched on Audible, Amazon and iTunes. The experience working through Amazon’s ACX platform was so satisfying, I thought I’d tell you all about it.
Back in the mid-autumn of 2013, while doing exactly nothing about promoting or selling my novel, I stumbled across ACX. I quickly learned that I could have my audiobook produced through the ACX platform at no out-of-pocket expense by splitting royalties with one of their many participating audiobook producers. Oh sure, I thought, how many of them will go to all that work (probably 25-50 hours of time) and expense (some of them pay for studio time) for a self-published novel by an unknown, on a straight royalty basis? I was skeptical.
But, what the hell – posting the project was simple and easy. It starts off with an Invitation for Auditions. It includes book description/blurb, and a full chapter of the manuscript. Once posted, the project is reviewed by the producers who search on their own, or you can search the roster of producers, listen to their voice samples, choose as many as you want, and send them an invitation to submit an audition.
I had no expectations at all – but in the short space of three days, I received 6-7 auditions. All of them were professional – and totally different! As I mulled the ones that had come in, others continued to arrive, until I had more than a dozen to choose from – any one of which would have satisfied me.
Then lightning struck. I received a message from ACX. They awarded my project a “production stipend,” essentially offering the chosen book producer a $100 per hour stipend (up to $2500) if the project was completed within 60 days of an agreement.
Notice of the stipend is attached to the title on the project page (a nifty red banner!). Within two days, I had another 8 auditions.
I spent a great deal of time looking up each of the artists. There were a number of people who’d just gotten into the field and had no credits to examine. There were some who had several credits in ebooks. There were some radio and television voice actors – commercials, mostly, but a few who’d also done theater.
I narrowed it down to two, based upon the voice alone. Then I made my final decision based upon the resume of the artist.
You will not have heard of Keith Sellon-Wright (yet), but the odds are you’ve seen him before – if you watched American television at any time during the past 25 years. I mean, just go look at the man’s IMDb! Wings, Love & War, Silk Stalkings, Married With Children, Almost Perfect, Seinfeld, The Practice, Charmed, Frasier, The West Wing, Gilmore Girls… I’m only half done.
Anyway, who would have thought, eh?
Here’s the kicker, though. Keith’s a hell of a guy. He’s a great character actor, works very hard at his craft, and he brought every element of his experience to bear in producing the novel in audio form. Most importantly, as the author of this story, I was curious to hear an experienced actor interpret it – and I have to say that Keith really nailed Paul Forté.
So – it took Keith a few months to get to the project due to prior commitments–discussed and agreed to during the “offer-acceptance” stage. Once Keith accepted, the clock began to tick, and he had 60 days to deliver. A week before deadline, he delivered (on the ACX website project page) chapter-by-chapter recordings, which had been done in a studio, with an engineer/editor, all paid for by Keith. I listened to each chapter, sent him back my notes, and he addressed them. In the space of 5 days, I listened to 15 hours of audio (original and re-recorded segments) and had many emails and phone conversations with Keith. In the end, he uploaded all of the chapter files, and a 3-minute “audio sample” used on the Audible site for promotion, and I clicked “ACCEPT.”
Now to sell the damn thing.
From what I’ve been able to find, marketing and promoting of audiobooks is the same slog as ebooks, etc., but My Partner and I haven’t settled on any particular plan. It will probably entail a lot of grumbling and whining about “cutting through the clutter” and “differentiating” us from the incessant spam with which we compete. More homework to do on this subject.
So that’s it. I now have a new audiobook, at a cost of zero, narrated and produced by an experienced professional actor into a very high-quality product.
Thank you, once again, Amazon.
Filed under: Book Marketing, Craft, crime fiction | 5 Comments
Tags: amazon, audiobook, crime fiction, diary of a small fish, keith sellon-wright
Some writers are story makers, some are story tellers. Some musicians are songwriters, some are lyricists. I’ve always felt free and exhilarated being the story teller, the lyricist. I struggle mightily to make the story or write the music. A novel every 3 years isn’t going to cut it. I need to find a way to do 2 a year and make them count.
I know there are crime and mystery fiction writers out there who relish story making. They just have that kind of mind, they can invent a complete story line in three days. But perhaps they’re not as in love with the process of creating characters and settings and driving the story down the Storybook Highway.
If I want to produce more than one or two novels before I shed my mortal coil, I need a collaborator. I need a story inventor. Perhaps a professional liar.
So – if you are a crime or mystery story maker, but not a story teller, if you love inventing stories but not bringing them to life, let’s talk. If you know a story maker who might consider such an arrangement, forward this to him or her. I’m fun to work with, I have no ego worth defending, and I adore the idea of collaborating.
I can’t wait to see what happens!
Filed under: Craft, crime fiction, Indie | 10 Comments
Tags: collaboration, dynamic duo, pete morin, storytelling
Surviving in the Amazon Jungle – How authors and reviewers can co-exist in a hostile environment (and run to court if they don’t)
Well, the Rice Petition has lost a lot of its steam as author after author continues to sign it with no apparent understanding of exactly what it proposes (based upon their own comments), but in the meantime, there has been a lot of discussion, and agreement, that Amazon’s review guidelines could use a few tweaks and a lot more enforcement.
There has also been a fair amount of criticism that demanding the true identities of ten million customers of Amazon products was too high a price to pay for a few dozen militant female reviewers to be “taught a lesson” by Queen Anne.
In that light, I began to consider the kind of actions the author and reviewer could take to both clarify their expectations in the book review arena and provide meaningful remedies against wrongdoers. There is no reason to send the cockroaches into the woodpile when a few well-coined provisos and wherefores can bring about harmony and understanding.
As a (dreaded) litigation attorney, I am forced to parse the language of contractual covenants, indemnifications, waivers, warranties, representations, certifications, promises and disclaimers. While the reading is excruciating, I take comfort in the fact that, pedantic and dull as they are, these kinds of clauses are usually enforceable according to their terms, no matter what they say. As long as both parties agree to the language and it is otherwise unambiguous and capable of only one meaning, it will be enforced in the event of a breach and consequent suit.
This kind of dirty business is not something fiction writers find tasteful (to say nothing of affordable), but believe me, knowing at the outset what your rights and obligations are gives you the comfort that your engagement in the Amazon marketplace is not going to land you in an FBI sting operation or subject you to nasty pranks or sudden food poisoning.
In the spirit of conciliation and cooperation, indie author to indie author, indie author to book reviewers of all kinds, and officious interloper to guileless newbie, I offer you these helpful tips to avoiding the snake pits and alligator jaws lurking in the Amazon jungle.
Authors and Their Babies Books
When you’ve spent several hours a day, several days a week, over several weeks years, on your next series blockbuster; when you’ve waited days months for your friends experienced beta readers to return their uncritical praise detailed criticisms and smiley emoticons line edits; when you’ve begged paid your BFF copy editor to go over it with a blow-kiss fine-toothed comb; when you’ve spent hours putting together your cover using stock photos and impossible fonts hundreds for a professional cover from a reputable graphic artist, and run your word file through the free software you downloaded from someplace paid for professional formatting and design of interior matter, the last thing you need to worry about is having no control over who reviews your book and what they say. One opinion from a gangster bully the discriminating reader, and your new baby book is floating face down in the Amazon swamp, has met its first troll review unflattering opinion, a victim proud new participant of the evil unnamed cabal of bully gangster trolls rough and tumble of the new book marketplace.
To enhance the opportunity for your book’s immediate and unqualified acceptance by avoidance of the mindless fangurlz “thought leaders” of the Amazon review system (as represented by the vaunted Society of Top Awesome Reviewers – STAR), I suggest that you insert the following language into the front matter of every one of your ebook offerings:
By receiving a copy of this book from any source whatsoever, the reader agrees that s/he will not post any review of said book in any Internet venue, without prior disclosure to and approval of the author. The author shall have no obligation to approve any review that contains undue criticism of any aspect of the author’s craft, imagination, story, cover or author page. The determination of what is “undue” shall be at the sole and unfettered discretion of the author, with or without regard for fact or reality. The author reserves the right to employ any and all means of social media (included but not limited to Amazon forums, Facebook, Kindle Boards, Facebook, personal weblog, Facebook, Pinterest, DiggIt, Tumblr, Fivrr, Facebook and Facebook) for the purpose of criticizing, mocking, ridiculing and otherwise defaming any review or reviewer, whether or not such review has been published in any public venue (including but not limited to the Internet generally, message boards, bulletin boards, telephone poles and public urinals); and the reviewer hereby waives any and all claims s/he may ever have against the author for the exercise of said right. As security for the performance of the reviewer’s obligations hereunder, the reviewer hereby grants the author an unlimited, unconditional lien upon reviewer’s residence located at _____________ as described in a deed dated ____________ and recorded at the _______________ county registry of deeds at Book ___, Page ___.
Please note that the notarization is a very important detail, as many foreign states require that contracts contain the raised seal of the notary to be enforceable.
Authors new to the business might consider the recommended language to be more aggressive than necessary. Who would agree to such ridiculous terms just for the pleasure of writing a review?
Those authors are dipshits not inured to the risks of the marketplace. They have not witnessed the permanent damage temporary setbacks that can result from the ravings of a psychotic stalker troll the expression of a frank opinion.
You are business people. Business people use contracts. Contracts protect rights. You can’t be too clear with your expectations!
The Rabid Stalker Bully Gangster Trolls Reviewers
Only a few short years ago, the average stay-at-home mom spent her relaxation time reading Jackie Collins and staring at the pool boy. Now, half of them are outselling Jackie Collins writing porn about the pool boy.
The other half are writing reviews of them.
Make no mistake – some of these reviews are the evil and illiterate rantings of jealous nobodies can be controversial, as they may shine an unduly harsh light on perceived shortcomings such as spelling, grammar, usage, style, characterization, plot, pacing and other frivolous details.
As many of these hypercritical reviewers do not boast MFA degrees and over-blown writing resumes, their criticism is often met by rabid hoards of fans attacking en mass in a deliberate prompt from the author’s Facebook page emphatic disagreement. The troll truly dedicated reader, a devoted two-book-a-week genre junky who has been a big meanie and said bad things to me written hundreds of reviews (good and bad) and been responsible for destroying the destiny of fame and fortune for tons of indie authors the word-of-mouth sales of thousands of indie books, might be publicly attacked by a bestselling household name as a “cartoonist reviewer” or like term find her opinion challenged by informed and respectful fellow readers.
There is only one way to protect the avid reviewer from the repercussions of harsh attacks on illiterate tripe honest intellectual criticism. Get it in writing.
The next time those indie authors contact you via email with a review request, send this back to them, auto-reply:
Hi!! I’m so GLAD that you contacted me to request a REVIEW!!!!
I’m glad to oblige and I can do it almost immediately!
Just send me back a (prc)(epub)(pdf)(doc)(other__________) file and your signed acknowledgement of the following statement:
“By delivering a copy of my book to REVIEWER, I hereby acknowledge that I have no expectation that the reviewer will read, like, or even review my book; and should REVIEWER publish a review in any venue, I will not criticize or otherwise comment negatively upon the review or the reviewer in any Internet venue; and further, I will not request or exhort any family member, friend or fan to do so. I further agree that any violation of this covenant shall entitled the reviewer to damages in the amount of $5 for each such comment made, in any venue, times $5 for each day such comment(s) remain visible. I hereby certify under the penalties of perjury that my true and correct legal name is _________________, and my true and correct residential address is ____________________.”
It comes down to communication. Problems arise between author and review when there is a failure to communicate. By both utilizing the form language above, or such modifications as they may mutually agree, the risk of miscommunication is substantially reduced. Each party knows their rights and liabilities. And they have an ironclad, enforceable promise in writing, upon which they may escalate any possible dispute.
I am available for consultations, should a problem arise.
Filed under: Book Marketing, Indie, Internet, law and fiction | 21 Comments
Tags: amazon, Anne Rice, anonymity, reviews
In the past week, there has been a great deal of exposure of a petition to Amazon seeking to remove anonymity from all Amazon book reviewers. With a great deal of help from author Anne Rice’s nearly one million Facebook followers, the petition, initiated by one of Rice’s fans, has garnered over 5,000 signatures.
In the scheme of things, 5,000 is not a lot of signatures, but I am still baffled that this many people – I might assume many of them are authors and Rice fans – could put their names behind the mandate expressed in the petition.
Before we get to the petition itself, though, I want to point out a few things.
I’ve spent a fair amount of time in the Amazon forums, and perhaps out of morbid curiosity, followed and reviewed the history of many of the more egregious instances of author versus author, author versus reviewer, and perhaps the worst instances: author fans on reviewer. These nasty encounters occur in the dark recesses of the Amazon book world, more commonly surrounding self-published works of erotica, romance and paranormal romance. As I read none of those (I swear), I am a mere wide-eyed spectator.
Let me say that one of the worst examples of this kind of gang attack was perpetrated by Ms. Rice herself, who posted a one-star review on her Facebook page, for all of her nearly 1 million fans to see, with a link to the review. You need no imagination to know what happened.
So then, this petition was submitted by one Todd Barselow, an independent editor and avowed fan of Ms. Rice, last week. (Mr. Barselow once attempted to raise money via gofundme to pay for a trip to New Orleans to visit the author and her son.) In just a short period of time, news of the petition – and more importantly, Ms. Rice’s championing of it (complete with PR photos)- has reached a variety of press outlets, all liberally using the press package delivered to them. Interesting! Still, with all of that worldwide press coverage, the petition still stands at just 5,280 signatures.
In the midst of this all, it was announced that Ms. Rice’s long-awaited next novel is to be released imminently. Ah. It starts to make sense.
Saturday the 7th, a freelance writer from Tampa, FL initiated a thread on the Top Reviewers Forum, identifying herself as a reporter and asking for comments on the Rice petition. She had already written the piece covering the “authors” perspective (Rice and two others); she wanted to cover the reviewers. Amid suspicion that she might be a Rice fan, she assured forum members that she would report “objectively.” The freelance writer pens a regular column for the Tampa Bay Examiner called The Anne Rice Examiner, in which we can peruse such objective news articles as “Five Reasons Why We Love Anne Rice Novels.” Other hard-hitting pieces can be found, such as Anne Rice Has a New App, and Random Facts You Might Not Know About Anne Rice (she prefers Jack-in-the-Box tacos to room service at the Ritz Carleton).
Needless to say, the article purporting to convey the opinions of reviewers in that forum wasn’t the objective reportage one might have expected from a typical journalist. In her lead, she stated that “some were suspicious of my motives and tried to expose me as some spy for the other side.” Gee, I can’t understand why they would have thought that! The freelancer’s next piece, published the very same day as her “Reviewers Fight Back” piece, is titled, Anne Rice’s Big Reveal – What will the subject of her new book be?”
Anyway, I’ve come to the regrettable conclusion that this petition, launched by an Anne Rice fan, promoted far and wide by Anne Rice’s PR team, and reported on by Anne Rice’s hand-picked accolyte, is a publicity stunt – and successful one, at that – by the author, timed to occur immediately prior to the release of her newest book.
Now that we’ve covered the origin of the petition, what does it say? Well, here are a few of its utterances, and my reaction.
Anyone can now quickly and easily publish a book using the tools freely provided by Amazon.
This is a problem, because “anyone” covers a lot of people who (a) have no business putting a price tag on their so-called “book” (ouch, I know – but it’s true) and (b) are not emotionally equipped to handle the reaction of a disgruntled customer.
What is at issue is the fact that there is an incredible amount of bullying and harassment of some of these self publishing authors taking place on the Amazon platform/system.
Well. “This is the worst book I’ve ever tried to read” is not bullying and harassment. Blunt, hard to accept (if you’re the author), yes. Warranting the removal of anonymity? No.
I believe, as do countless others—many who will have signed this petition—that the reason this bullying and harassment is able to take place is because of the allowance of anonymity on Amazon.
The book has to be uploaded first, so that starts the ball rolling.
These people are able to create multiple accounts and then use those accounts to viciously attack and go after any author or person that they feel doesn’t belong on Amazon or who shouldn’t have published a book, made a comment on a forum post, etc.
Is the problem anonymity? Or is it multiple aliases under one account? I’m all for eliminating the use of multiple sock puppet accounts – frequently used by authors to post fake five star reviews of their own work, as well as to attack competitors.
Reviewers and forum participants should not be anonymous. By removing their anonymity and forcing them to display their real, verified identities, I believe that much of the harassment and bullying will cease.
We really do need to define these terms, “bullying” and “harassment.” Both are laden with subtext. But what Ms. Rice proposes is that the tens of millions of customers who buy from Amazon and might wish to review a product must surrender their anonymity because a few authors have had bad receptions to their work.
The impact of such a policy is hard to over-estimate. What soccer mom is going to continue to review the erotica she buys when she fears the judgmental eyes of the PTA board? What sufferer of mental or physical illness is going to review books on those subjects? The list of products reviewed on Amazon is endless. And so are the people whose opportunity to provide other customers with feedback will be impaired by this intrusive demand for identification.
Author Anne Rice has recently taken up this cause, as well, after experiencing the vitriol and hatred spewed by sock puppet account holders in the Amazon forums. She has publicly spoken out against these types of activities on numerous occasions and I’m sure that she will support this petition.
This is where the sheep’s clothing starts to look fake.
First of all, Ms. Rice was not subjected to “vitriol and hatred.” She initiated discussions in the Amazon forums, made deliberately provocative allegations against “careerist reviewers,” and “gangster bullies,” and met with disagreements. I invite anyone with the idlest curiosity to have a look. Furthermore, who knows whether any of the people daring to challenge Ms. Rice’s opinions were “sock puppets” or not. I know I did, and here I am. Many other authors disagreed with her, by name.
The petition was posted by Ms. Rice’s fan on change.org on Monday, February 24th. Ms. Rice signed the petition that day, and appears to have been the first person to have done so. She posted a link to the petition on her Facebook page on March 3rd, the day before the media campaign began: The Guardian (“Anne Rice signs petition to protest bullying of authors on Amazon”), Entertainment Weekly (“Anne Rice stands up to haters on Amazon”), Mediabistro (“Anne Rice Fights Author Bullying on Amazon”), the Toronto Sun (“Anne Rice wants Amazon to ban anonymity”) and (of all places) the American Conservative (“Anne Rice Against Amazon Bullies”), all on March 4th, Time on March 5th, the Christian Science Monitor on March 6th, and a variety of secondary sources picked it up.
All with Ms. Rice’s name in the headline. All featuring lovely pictures of Ms. Rice. Some of them repeating false information about things that didn’t happen; none of them repeating the gory details of Ms. Rice’s own penchant for attacking her critics.
It offends me that a famous author would use such a far-reaching cause to both punish her critics and promote a new book. It’s shameful, really.
I get it that some folks have thin skin (Ms. Rice said, “thin skin got me where I am today”), and I’m not one to stick up for malicious people. I am not pleased at all by a lot of the anti-social behavior exhibited on the Internet. I’d like to see Amazon more aggressively monitor and moderate their customer forums, and I can think of a number of users I’d love to see banned outright.
But compelling millions of customers to reveal their names as a condition of reviewing a product is the equivalent of dropping a bomb on an anthill. You get rid of the ants, and a whole lot more than you intended.
Filed under: Book Marketing, Indie, Internet, law and fiction, Peter Morin | 22 Comments
Tags: amazon, Anne Rice, anonymity
Ro Cuzon recently posted a link on Facebook to a piece written by Laura Lippman for Rogue Reader. She took an opportunity to mention one of her favorite movies, Funny Bones, starring Oliver Platt and the great Jerry Lewis.
Every time I see a photograph of Jerry Lewis, a vivid memory of one of his greatest solo skits comes to mind. I was perhaps six or seven years old, sick with a flu and home from school. I lounged on the couch in front of the black and white television set (we’re talking 1961-1962 – don’t say a word), watching whatever I could find on one of the three channels the rabbit ears would deliver. That particular day, the morning movie was The Errand Boy (1961), starring Lewis, Brian Donleavy as “T.P. Paramutual,” and Howard McNear as “Dexter Sneak.”
I was a Lewis fan already, because The Bellboy had come out the year before, and what six-year-old wasn’t captivated by Lewis’s goofy rubber face, idiot voice and exaggerated pratfalls?
Then there came a point in the movie when I became hypnotized.
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Known to Lewis movie aficionados as “The Chairman of the Board,” the skit portrays Lewis’s character, Morty Tashman, a lowly errand boy in the corporate office of Paramutual Pictures, as he takes liberties in the Boardroom. He slips into the Chairman’s seat at the head of a conference table, helps himself to one of the Chairman’s cigars, and proceeds to direct an imaginary phalanx of board members in a magnificent pantomime, expertly choreographed to the incomparable “Blues In Hoss Flat” by Count Basie.
Yes, it was comedic genius, but why? What was it in that skit that seared my memory so completely that I remember it so clearly fifty-four years later?
The Big Band music is a factor, of course, but listening to Basie’s orchestra without the visual of Lewis doesn’t quite fit the bill.
It is Lewis’s choreography, his timing, the deftness with which that character seamlessly moves from stealth corporate spy to ruthless bigshot, and the disconnect between the angry Chairman and the hilarious, goofy faces that are flashed in that anger.
This certainly translates to storytelling, especially as it illustrates how humor can work so well in the tough environment of crime fiction.
As anyone who’s read some of my stuff knows, I’m fond of humor. The punch line that delivers on the very last syllable. The pause before the snarky reply. The raised eyebrow before the one word riposte. I can only hope that the more I work on that, the closer I can get to the exquisite timing of men like Lewis.
Filed under: Craft, crime fiction, Music, Uncategorized | 1 Comment
Tags: chairman of the board, comic timing, count basie, errand boy, jerry lewis
Back in June, I attended my 40th reunion – Phillips Andover Class of 1973.
We have an unusually close group of classmates. Many of us return every 5 years and pick up a conversation like it had never ended – even if we haven’t had a moment of contact in between. There is something magical about the experience of returning to a campus you first saw when you were 14 years old – a place where you grew from a boy into a young man, mostly away from home and in the company of other boys facing the same challenges and fears.
We might not have had the prescience to know then how much that experience bound us together, but every five years, we come to appreciate it more and more – and even though every time we reunite we are five years older, we still manage to regress to that time as easily as though it were our first reunion. It’s a little ridiculous, 58-year-old men staying up until 3:00 am, recounting the same madcap pranks, but it’s a good ridiculous.
This past event was something special and poignant, though. Over the years, we’ve lost a number of classmates, but this past year, one of the class’s bright lights lost a short and tragic battle to cancer, and it hurt a lot. He would slap me if I wallowed in the maudlin, and his widow instructed us that, being Irish (of course), he would have insisted that we not mourn his death but celebrate his life. And we did the best we could under the circumstances.
As a testament to that, Mike Fox wrote a little tune, shared it with me and his buddy, Dan Miner, and the three of us lightened up the class dinner with a little Blues for Sully.
If you ever met Steve Sullivan, you’d understand how perfectly Foxy had nailed it.
Filed under: Uncategorized | 2 Comments
Tags: dan miner, mike fox, phillips andover, steve sullivan
As I approach the second anniversary of the publication of Diary of a Small Fish, I’ve now had more than three years to observe and participate in the discussion about the distinctions between traditional publishing and self-publishing. Despite the monumental changes that have occurred in the fiction market, and the meteoric speed at which they’ve taken place, the arguments haven’t changed that much on either side. The evidence (pro and con) changes, new examples arise, success stories are one-a-week, it seems, on both sides. No matter how robust the indie market, trad pub still seems to be doing fine, if their numbers are right (if ANY numbers are right). Very smart people are discussing this at great length, I learn a lot from them, and I applaud them for their leadership in this industry. It’s fun to watch, and it’s fun to be a part of it all.
But I have to say, I’m getting a little tired of this singular focus (not only by trad industry stalwarts) on the sheer numbers of “free” or “underpriced” self-published novels that meet the critics’ definition of “dreck,” or [pick your own pejorative], as though that is reason enough to discount the whole indie fiction market.
After much masticating, I’ve found the proper metaphor to put the “cheap is bad” meme to rest.
My wife and I honeymooned for nearly a month in Portugal, in November of 1984. Back then, the dollar was strong, the Portuguese escudo was weak, and modest Americans could travel the countryside in royal fashion. The best hotel rooms were under a hundred bucks, and better yet, the best bottle of Aguardente could be had for under $25 (less than half its equivalent French product).
Elizabeth and I covered the countryside in our tiny Deux Chevaux, following a rough figure 8, beginning in Lisbon, traveling southeast through Evora to the southern port of Faro, west to Portimao and Sagres, up to Braganca in the northeast corner, west to Braga and then Porto, and south along the coast to Aveiro, Figueria da Foz and eventually to the Costa do Sol and the casinos of Cascais. We made a point of stopping in a lot of the smaller villages to buy bread, cheese, sausage, fruit, and of course, wine. You know, honeymoon picnic stuff. We ate by the side of many a country road, watching flocks of wild turkeys, or shepherds driving their sheep, or cork harvesters, while we ate local food and drank local wines.
Each little village had its own Vinho Verde or Vinho Tinto, and they would cost a maximum of $2, usually less. So, being good consumers and generous contributors to the local economies, we would buy 2-4 bottles at each stop. We’d open one and sample it. If it was good, we drank it. If it wasn’t, we poured it out and moved on to the next one. (I know this appears to be an admission of drinking while driving, but we were very conscientious about moderation. *cough cough*)
So this is how I’ve found sampling indie-published novels as well. Like the village wines, most of them are inexpensive, and it doesn’t take much of a sip to decide if it’s worth consuming. If it isn’t, it’s deleted from the kindle and you move on to the next one.
I’m an avid consumer of very good wine, and I know my stuff better than most. My ancestors produced some of Burgundy’s most famous Clos De Vougeot long ago (Chateau Morin, Pere et fils). But I hate wine snobs, and while I certainly can appreciate the difference between a Romanée Conti and a mid-range Oregon pinot noir, I am happy that so many excellent quality wines are accessible to the wine drinking masses! Just because you run across a lousy bottle of wine every once in a while, you cannot condemn all moderately priced wines. Even Two Buck Chuck is potable.
The same goes for fiction. I majored in English lit, read most of the greats and a lot of the highbrow literary critics of the day. There is a lot of great literature produced by the “Domaines” of traditional publishing. The reading it rich and full-bodied, like an elegant old Bordeaux.
But viniculture has evolved. Good wine can be produced inexpensively and efficiently today. It doesn’t have to stay in a musty cellar for 15 years any more.
And good fiction doesn’t require 3-5 years of lead time between completion and publication.
Epublishing is the new viniculture of fiction. Grab a few bottles, get yourself a baguette and some Gorgonzola, and check out some of the unknown brands. You might have to pour a few out, but you’ll find some good drinking, too.
If you’re looking for a recommendation, why, this one is a good place to start.
Filed under: Book Marketing, Indie | 20 Comments
Tags: cheap wine, indie, portugal, small fish, two buck chuck, vinho