Archive for the ‘Science-Fiction’ Category

To Market, or not to market


SunKillersCoverLSince the completion of my first novel and having it prepared for publication something new has been occupying my time. Much to my surprise it has, at times, been far more cumbersome than the initial writing of the novel, and has had the potential to take over far more of my time than could have been imagined. Now that the book is available online the specter of marketing hangs over my head: the idea of attracting an audience to my work has begun to haunt me, particular after spending any amount of time reading some of the many blogs and newsgroups dedicated to helping new authors promote their works.

How does someone go about attracting an audience? It is a difficult question, and there are many books out there purporting to have the answer. There are also many newsgroups, Facebook groups, and blogs dedicated to authors and book promotion, and when you start reading them it is easy to quickly lose great swaths of time that could, or should, have been spent doing other things, like editing and revising the second book in the series.

Reading these blogs or groups makes it appear as though one of the only options available to a new author is to spend money to market the work which you have spent months—or even years—working to create, in the hopes that you might attract the readers willing to invest in your work. This all follows the caveat, truly spoken, that writing is not an easy way to quick riches.

When I made the decision to begin writing my novels it had nothing to do with a desire to become rich, but it would be a lie to say that I did not want my books to sell.

Of course, that having been said, unless the author in question is already independently wealthy, or is fortunate to have some other source of income to support their writing habit, the prospects of being able to afford these outlays of money are, quite frankly, a pipe dream.

There is, of course, another option: one might be able to attract readers by having written something worth reading. Ah, but herein lies the other issue: how can someone know that you have written something worth reading if they do not know about what you have written?

Indeed, that is an excellent question. One which has caused me great pause. In considering the situation, it occurred to me that writing is about the craft, less so about the marketing. Certainly, marketing comes into play, but a good book, a book that people want to read, gets the most promotion, and the best promotion, from the readers who tell others about the book that they have enjoyed reading. It has always been this way and, quite frankly, it always shall be this way.

If you enjoy a book do you tell others about it? Do you post to Facebook, or Twitter about the book you just read? Many people do, and that is the modern-day “word of mouth” marketing that authors rely on so heavily.

Then there is the craft. If a book is well-written, it is more than likely to be read by someone than if a book is poorly crafted. If given the choice between a well-written book with a familiar story or a poorly-written one, with a story that is unfamiliar, which would you choose? You might choose the unfamiliar, but struggling to read through something that has not been well-wrought is, quite frankly, not worth the effort. There are too many things out there that are worth reading, why waste your time with something that still needs the help of a good editor, and several more revisions?

Writing is about craft; it is a craft which must be honed, practiced, and perfected. One of the great advances of the day is the ability for people to have their works published with relative ease, but this is also making it easier for people to crank out things that have not been well-edited, revised, or proofread. As an avid reader, one who enjoys exploring a variety of genres, I have not been afraid to try many untested authors, but the results have quite uneven in the reading experiences, and some, sadly, have been unreadable.

But it comes down, mostly, to the technique of the writer. It also has to do with rushing to publish, and not willing to proofread and revise one’s own work. These are vital steps in the process, and that is precisely what writing is all about: it is a process. Creativity is about process. It is the creative process, from the inception of the idea, the birth of the notion, through its nascent stage as it begins to take shape, and then, after a time, with the proper coaxing and sketching, it is further developed into a full-blown concept, a design, a plot, theme, or character. Whatever it becomes, be it a full-blown novel or a symphony, it begins with a seed and ends with a finished product. You cannot skip the steps within the process.

Writing a novel is a massive undertaking; it is a commitment that takes many months, if not longer, before you are able to begin the process of revising your book, putting it into some semblance of order. When my novel was first finished, it ended up going through another two intense revisions before it was finally submitted to Amazon and Kobo. It is a far better book than what might have been published, but that is the process.

Consider, if you will, the techniques used by the great speechwriters: they are seamless, seemingly effortless, and yet, they form the skeletal structure of what we hear, of what moves us, of what drives us to either vote for a candidate or raise our voices in anger, either for or against something. Through the use of parallel structure, the use of metaphor, the use of rhetoric, and other technical devices, a successful writer creates a structure upon which their words float and their ideas are borne in an effortless manner. A less successful writer creates something that comes across as plodding, regardless of what the presenter may do with the words, if the prose is not well wrought, the words fall flat.

While writing a novel, or a post for a blog for that matter, is not the same as writing a speech, technique is certainly part of the equation, just as it comes to play in the world of composing music. As a composer of contemporary classical music, this is something that speaks to my heart as it has been the main focus of my life for the past twenty-five years. Music is an art of cumulative knowledge: everything you learn, from your first lessons are built on, right through until the present. Everything in music builds upon everything else, which is why we study the great masters to gain an understanding of the music we write today, even if it is not melodic. Music, art, and culture of the past informs the creatives of the present.

Something occurred to me while writing my novel: as music is a cumulative art, so too is writing. Everything that a writer experiences, everything they see, everything they hear, that they touch, all they have experienced, becomes fodder for their work. All of the lessons that they learned pertaining to language and its proper use informs the development of their voice, the way they will express themselves on the page and bring their characters to life for their reader.

A blank page is a challenge to the creative person, to both the composer, the writer, or an artist: it represents an affront to they are as artists. So long as that page, be it a real piece of paper or a screen on the computer, is devoid of words, music, or even a sketch, the task of creating remains unfulfilled. This is why the job of marketing is such a difficult task for creatives: how do you convey in a short ad that you should read the book that is now available on Amazon and Kobo by Peter Amsel? Indeed, how would any marketing campaign successfully convey the true sense of the novel when it is over 148,000 words long? It is, of course, impossible. Suffice it to say, the book is the first in a five-volume Science-Fiction series. The series is called the Felis Alliance Series and the book is entitled Sun Killers.

My invitation is that you visit my website and read a sample from the first chapter of the book. If you enjoy the chapter, you may decide to purchase it through Kobo or through Amazon, for either your Kindle or as a paperback.

Either way, thank you for reading this and, be assured, much more effort, time, and energy, went into the crafting of the novel than went into the writing of this post.

A brief synopsis of Sun Killers appears below the link to the website. A longer preview may be found at the Kobo website, including the Prologue.

Read an excerpt here.

Book One of the Felis Alliance Series begins with a mystery: the most powerful person in the universe has disappeared without a trace and nobody knows where she has gone. Now it is the responsibility of her three Guardians to locate her and bring her home.

What they do not realize is that there are forces working against them who do not want her to be found, and they will stop at nothing to prevent her from ever returning to the Alliance, even if that means killing everyone on Earth in the process.

Sun Killers takes you from one end of the universe to the other, at speeds beyond the speed of light, but you will never be tired as a result of the journey.