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Totally Random

Life has been somewhat random lately, so this post is just to get stuff out of the way.

Just finished the beta reading of a novel, and that’s probably the last one I’ll do for some time. A lot of time and work, during which I put off my own writing tasks.

Lots of housecleaning, virtual and otherwise. Deleted links to some blogs that are no longer interesting to me, including Konrath’s. Dean Wesley Smith may also go, since most of his posts are now flogging his new publishing venture and his books. I’m not a customer for either Smith or Konrath, and if they have nothing useful to say to me, they’re dead weight.

Deleted my Twitter account — again. This time for good. There’s rarely anything on it from my few follows that I can’t find elsewhere, and I don’t tweet often enough to be a presence. Also dropped out of Pinterest, more out of annoyance than anything else. I unfollowed someone who posts dozens of pics at a time, flooding my page, and found that her stuff was still on my page. Complaint to powers-that-be resulted in the usual instructions on how to do what I’d already done, and various non-answers (three of them).

Relative to Twitter deletion, the only site I’m on now that could remotely be considered a social network is Goodreads, and that’s mostly for finding new books, and leaving reviews and ratings.

How is this lack of social networking presence affecting my sales? July and August were terrible, but that seems to be normal for most writers — very slow summer sales. But September is shaping up to be an exceptional month (with the understanding that sales mysteriously come and go and could stop at any moment). 15 sales of Hidden Boundaries so far, and a few of Crossing Boundaries and Within the Silence. This is with no marketing of any kind, whatsoever. All sales are from Amazon except one on B & N, through Smashwords, which continues Smashwords’ descent into near-uselessness for me.

My numbers certainly don’t approach anything that would normally be considered success, but I’m satisfied that the the books continue to sell without much help from me. The folk wisdom that you’re simply going to get lost on a huge site like Amazon if you don’t promote, promote, promote, looks more like an old wive’s tale than anything else. Otherwise, why would people continue to find and buy something as obscure as Hidden Boundaries? All I’ve done is tweak descriptions, and make sure that it’s properly tagged.

Minor annoyances that I can’t do anything about: 1. What seems like a trend to insert sex/romance into science fiction as a deliberate draw. I’ve seen a couple of books labeled as romantic SF, and the SF listings on Amazon are showing covers that properly belong to the heaving bosoms crowd. All I can say about that is UGGH! I hope those writers get what they deserve — one-star ratings, and lots of complaints from disappointed romance readers. 2. Amazon’s Kindle listings for science fiction are heavily polluted with zombie, shifters, ghosties, and other paranormal nonsense, and by fantasy novels. I detest the increasing trend that jams SF and fantasy into the same category, especially in anthologies.

That is all.

7 Comments

  1. Your covers are very good, Catana, and that, I’m told, is another of the VI factors that influence buyers. And the more books you have out there, the more chances there are for readers to discover you and search out other works by you. Anyway, so go the stories I’m hearing …

  2. My, you’re as full of opinions as always. :)

    “All I can say about that is UGGH! I hope those writers get what they deserve — one-star ratings, and lots of complaints from disappointed romance readers.”

    Speaking as a romantic science fiction writer – *cough* – I rather like cross-genre fiction. And trendiness often only means a bunch of writers discovering the same trope at the same time and having fun playing with it. But I agree that it’s ridiculous how much piling-onto-the-subgenre-bandwagon-in-order-to-make-money there is. This seems mostly due to the lack of imagination of big publishers. (“Star Wars made it big at the box office? We’ll bring out a thousand space operas!”)

    “I detest the increasing trend that jams SF and fantasy into the same category, especially in anthologies.”

    Interesting that this is happening again. I say “again,” because you’ll recall that this is what the speculative fiction world was like till the 1980s. I didn’t even know that there was an adult genre called fantasy until I went began visiting bookstores in the 1990s. In my childhood, only the children’s literature world recognized fantasy as a separate publishing genre. I remember having to find out about books like the Thomas Covenant series from my fellow geeks in high school, because adult-literature fantasy was so hard to track down. Roger Zelazny, fortunately, was classified as science fiction, so he was in the SF section of the library. But I missed reading a whole host of fantasy writers for adults in the 1970s, simply because science fiction was drowning them out. (I own a book from the late 1970s that lists all the major fantasy books that were available that time. Most of them were children’s novels. Fortunately, I read lots of those.)

    “How is this lack of social networking presence affecting my sales?”

    I’m following the same trend you are of cutting back sharply on social networking and marketing. I still feel that I need to do a little marketing – my sales numbers for individual titles aren’t as high as yours for Hidden Boundaries, alas – and I do have the good fortune of having promoted my fiction for ten years, so I have a good sense of what marketing techniques work for me. But I’ve spent far too much time marketing in the past. I now realize that the most effective marketing I can do (I’m speaking of my own personal solution; I know this isn’t the best one for you) is get at least one new e-book published each month, even if it’s flash fiction. So my time for other types of marketing needs to be minimal from this point forth.

    • Dusk, I can normally enjoy cross-genre writing, and I’m probably even guilty of it myself. It’s actually a good trend, in general. I have to admit to being just plain prejudiced, in this case. I don’t like romance, and SF is my favorite genre, and for that reason alone, my attitude is “never the twain shall meet.” But it’s also a revulsion against “piling-onto-the-subgenre-bandwagon-in-order-to-make-money.” I have no objection to two people falling in love in an SF novel, but a great deal of objection to giving the same old cliched romance tropes an SF setting. Especially when the authors aren’t familiar with SF.

      As for fantasy, I like it when it’s strongly written — His Dark Materials, Arm of the Stone, etc., and not pretending to be science fiction. Yes, I discovered Zelazny at some point and was sucked in, purely for his story telling. I also wasn’t aware of the fantasy genre until fairly recently. Other than SF, which was clearly a category, I just read what interested me.

      Marketing — I’ve done enough reading about the futility of most marketing, including social networking, to justify my laziness about something I dislike anyway. I’ve completely failed in my attempt to publish something every month, but that’s par for the course, for me. Still, I’m holding to the belief that it’s more books, and better writing that will make the difference. September turned out to be my best month on Kindle, but I’m treating that like an anomaly and don’t expect it to continue. And it makes me angry that you’re not selling much, much better than I am. Though Hidden Boundaries is really my only “best-seller,” with Crossing Boundaries trailing way behind, and the rest a little better than comatose.

      • “I don’t like romance”

        Do you mean genre romance, or were you wincing your way through the stories at orig_slavefic?

        Other than a couple of m/m novels, I’ve read almost no genre romance – I think Mary Stewart’s romantic suspense novels (which I love) are the sole exception. I tend to think that any trope can be done well; Shakespeare seems to have lived on tropes. If I knew what the genre romance structure was, I’d probably try tackling it, just for the fun of it. I did that a lot with shopworn slash tropes, during my early years in that community. Practically everything I wrote in 2002 and 2003 was my take on a slash trope that I thought could be done better . . . or my take on a trope that I’d done badly in a daydream during the 1990s, and that I asked my Muse to improve.

        “And it makes me angry that you’re not selling much, much better than I am.”

        I’m not; I love to see my friends do well. :)

  3. My dislike of romance is a general thing, helped along, of course, by some of the stuff on original slavefic (and elsewhere). The problem is that I just can’t relate — at any level. I don’t have a romantic bone in my body, and I’m not turned on by reading about sex, so it’s all pretty much of a dead loss for me. It’s not the only genre I don’t understand or lack any feeling for, unfortunately, so if I ever feel an irrational desire to expand my wings into other genres, there isn’t going to be much to choose from. I love historical fiction, but have absolutely no patience for the kind of research that would involve. So I’m going to have to get very very good within my limited range. [Woe is me.] :-)

  4. Specialist writers can do quite well. I’ve realized – awfully late in life – that I may be more attuned to friendship and romantic friendship than I am to sexually-based love, but love is love, as far as I’m concerned. I’m even tackling female/female romantic friendship in an upcoming story. :)

    • I can do friendship without any problem, thank goodness, and even romantic friendship as long as there’s no reason to get deeply into sexual relations. In The Warden, which I wrote a couple of years ago and haven’t quite finished, The protagonist and his ex-con slave are lovers, but it’s simply acknowledged, the way you’d be aware your friends were in a relationship without needing to know what they do in bed. I would have no idea how to write about that kind of relatonship between two women, though. My first impulse would be to say that if you write such a story I probably wouldn’t be interested in reading it. But knowing you, it wouldn’t resemble anything most readers would expect.

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