Let's be honest. Have you ever called anyone ignorant? I know I have (sorry whoever that was) and I would say at one time or another we all have. Now let me ask you this. When you did that, were you educating the person or insulting them? Because ignorant is not an insult. ALL of us are ignorant. ALL of us!
In the dictionary the definition of ignorant is lacking knowledge, information, or awareness about something in particular. Oh boy! Am I ignorant of a host of topics.
Ok, a third question. Do you think as a society we are more ignorant or less ignorant than our forefathers? I'm not going to answer that. That's an answer you have to come up with yourself.
(What does this have to do with fiction? What I'm getting there.)
I had the unfortunate chance this last weekend to spend some time with a person who professes to be highly intelligent (mostly from his own lips). Yet I say he is the most ignorant man I know.
I call it the Einstein Effect. Albert Einstein was a genius of that there is no doubt. Yet he failed many subjects and his mother would pin a note with directions on his coat so he could find his way home. He was a mathematical and physics genius and ignorant of most other things.
And that brings us to fiction. (It does? What? How?)
The average American reads at the 5th grade level (it used to be 6th grade so as a country were also become more stupid). So now writers are not able to create masterful works of literature like Anna Karenina, The Great Gatsby, and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. And it's all because of ignorance.
Writers have been forced to "dumb-down" their creations so the masses can understand and relate to the book. Some things you can't do anymore in a novel.
Put in maps or physical directions
Languages other than English or Spanish (hey no subtitles)
References from previous generations (if you put bell bottoms in your novel only 4% of the people reading your book will know what they are)
The list goes on but you get me point.
Even in this age of the "Information Highway" which needs to be rebranded as "Tarnishing Avenue" more people are ignorant of even the mundane of life.
Don't believe me? Try this; here are six things you grandfather could do that the majority of people born after 1990 cannot.
Change a car tire
Read a map
Use the library system to find a book
Make change without the register telling you the amount
Open a checking account (this one shocked me)
Fill out a job application
(side note: this blog post was written at grade level 5.2 :)
A few posts ago I said I would be advertising my book Darkwater and that I would post the results later. I thought now would be a good time. I have stopped advertising my books for now because with the publication of my second book sales have skyrocketed. (Yeah me!)
So on with the results. Keep in mind this is not a scientific study of any sort. And that there are so many variables you results could differ wildly.
DNP stands for does not provide potential reach. Meaning they don’t tell you how many people see your ad. Dollar amount are in US dollars.
dailyfreebooks.com - DNP - Cost $7.50 - Sold 1 book My Grade F
pagehungrybookworm.com – DNP - $9.99 – Sold 3 – Grade C
ilikeebooks.com – 45,000 - $10.00 – Sold 1 – Grade F
bookraid.com – DNP - $Free – Sold 1 – Grade A (It’s free!)
readfree.ly – 20,000 - $10.00 – Sold 4 – Grade A (because I actually made a profit on this ad)
genrepulse.com – DNP - $17.00 – Sold 2 – Grade F
itswritenow.com – DNP - $20.00 – Sold 2 – Grade F
bookbongo.com – DNP - $29.99 – Sold 4 – Grade F
As you can see the advertising did not go well. I spent $104.48 and sold 18 books. The 18 books netted me $6.30. That’s a loss of $-98.18.
What can we learn from this? I learned two things. First, if you’re advertising your book you will not recoup your ad costs let alone make a profit. Second, Advertising is not about making money (at least for indie authors) it’s about getting the word out. The more people that see your book advertised here, there, everywhere. The better your chance of having the book take off (assuming you wrote a great book)
I did learn one more very important piece of information when I published my second book. The more books you published the more books you sell. Publishing my second book increased the sales of my first book by 28%.
Free the Darkness (King's Dark Tidings #1)
by Kel Kade
It has over 400 reviews and most of them positive. That surprises me as I could not read past the prologue. It is so full of unnecessary words. Reading this book is like reading the dictionary. There is no heart, no flow. All you have to do is read the blurb to know what I'm talking about. Roughly every other word could be removed to make a much better story. I understand you have a Thesaurus, but please!
This is from the blurb and is typical how the book is written.
Rezkin must travel across Ashai to find the one man who may hold the clues to his very existence. His last orders, spoken on the lips of his dying Master, were to "Kill with conscience" and "Protect and honor your friends." Living in isolation from the outworld under a strict regimen of training and education, the young warrior has no understanding of a conscience or friends. Determined to adhere to his last orders, Rezkin extends his protection to an unlikely assortment of individuals he meets along the way, often leading to humorous and poignant incidents.
It hurts to read it doesn’t it? There are so many extra words, many of them words people don’t use often. Words to make the writing sound more important than it really is. Kill with conscience?? That doesn’t even make sense
I'm sorry. I wanted to like this book. The title sounds great. But after you read the title it quickly (read immediately) goes downhill. I gave it one star. And that is because you can’t give it zero stars.
Last week I mentioned I would critique the new TV show The Inhumans. So here we go.
Oh where to start with this show. First I will say that most “critics” are on the fence. But the fence is leaning towards a flop. I have to agree. With the flop that is. I am not on the fence. After seeing just one episode I have to stay clear of this show because too much bile was caught in my throat. Watching the show is like watching Charlies Angels battle the Six-Million Dollar Man.
To put it bluntly, this show is awful. And not just awful it’s shockingly awful. You only need watch the last few minutes of last week’s episode to get a sense of how badly written, acted AND directed this show is.
The last scene had to be made up on the spot. I can’t truly believe that someone was paid to write such a horrible mess. Its starts with the lead good guy and a friend walking out of a secure facility only to be met by all the bad guys in the parking lot (how convenient). Then just as the bad guys are going to win. The lead good guy grabs a random pipe that expels explosive gas (again how convenient) while the friend runs of camera (never to be seen again). Then the lead good girl shows up, Medusa played by Serinda Swan. Who by the way should quit acting, because she can’t act. She drives a 70’s or 80’s Cadillac convertible (I need a word here for Cliché’) Hits the bad guy with the door and knocks him out. Not the toughest bad guy I’d say. For a moment I thought I had been transported back to 1980 and I was watching
Dukes of Hazard. The ‘Dukes’ is possibly the worst show ever put on TV, which is until this inhuman debacle.
So if you’re thinking about watching the Inhumans you would be better off stabbing a fork in your leg. It would be more fun and less painful.
Please producers, making this show for people to watch is... Inhuman.
I’ve received a few messages asking for me to comment on several subjects. The popular topics are the Weinstein case and the Leah Remini / A&E show. This isn’t the forum to go in to detail on these topics but I will say that the cover tagline of my newest book sums up the issue quite well, “power corrupts absolutely.”
Now a different topic(s).
I have been a fan of comic books, fantasy and sci-fi for going on fifty years. I grew up in the age of Marvel Comics. I love all that kind of stuff. So when a movie or TV show with that spin shows up I have to watch it. That brings us to two I’d like to write about. The Shannara Chronicles Season 2, which I write about in today’s blog. And the Inhumans which I’ll write about next week.
The Shannara Chronicles. I hadn’t heard of the series until I saw an ad on Netflix. I watched season one and thoroughly enjoyed it. It wasn’t any new ground breaking film making. But the characters were mysterious, strong and full of life. It was set in a unique environment and had plenty of action and little if any sex. The fact that it wasn’t laced with sexual innuendos, blatant sexual acts, etc. was something I found very refreshing. The one drawback was the lead male character (Austin Butler) was chosen for his looks rather than his skill as an actor.
Fast forward to the first episode of season 2. Uh, WTF (That’s What The Frak). First it didn’t start where season one left off. I kept thinking I must have missed three of four episodes. Once I finally got my mind adjusted to the fact that the second season had little if anything to do with season one I had to contend with the reality that season two’s opener sucked. The acting was horrible. The lines were rushed. The editing was choppy and haphazard. But in order to save ALL the actor’s poor performances the writers had a genius (read stupid) idea. Let’s put in a scene of two girls kissing. That will save the miserable mess of a show. Yes, Ivana Baquero (who?) went from being in love with the lead man to being a lesbian. That’s a fast 180 seeing as she was trapped in a labyrinth at the end of season one.
You know a show is headed for the trash can when either a) they send the crew to Hawaii for a “special” episode. Or b) they pour “controversial sex” scenes into the show. Overall the Shannara Chronicles went from “nice job, I want to see more,” to “where’s the barf bag” faster than demons can fly.
Book 2 of the Xenkur Trilogy is now available in ebook and paperback on Amazon - Kobo and Smashwords
Ebook $ .99 (for a limited time)
Paperback $ 12.95
“Honestly, me thinks, if not killing her, at the least it caused her moral compass ta shift.”
“Its not just a moral shift, the evil thing is corrupting her heart. Her very soul.” Willow was nearly in tears.
“Speak of the devil herself,” Penn said, “Here she comes.”
“I have need of some iron castoffs.”
“Over there Lady M,” Penn pointed to a large pile of scrap.
Mithavan’ara-Khan rummaged briefly through the pile then walked away without a another word.
“Be a good day to ya as well, young mage, bah!” Penn thumbed his nose.
“You see, its worse.”
Rollin wiped the tears from Willows face. “I milady, its as if she doesnt know us.”
“Or care,” Penn added.
“I fear our young friends path no longer has room for friends.” Penn lifted himself off the stool and walked into his shop leaving Rollin and Willow together to ponder the future.
The war had raged on for three years with neither side gaining an advantage for long. The Orcs would push their way across the Blackwater River only to have the Paladins and their allies drive them back a few days later. Nowadays, it was mostly a stalemate. The lines were drawn almost in the same spot as they had started at the river. Battles in the field now were almost nonexistent. All the combat was now behind the scenes. It was combat filled with deception and espionage.
The war the Orcs started, known now as the Clan Wars, had engulfed all the western kingdoms. The exception was the far north where the barbarian tribes took advantage of the ice and cold to keep the creatures at bay. There was no war in the east, but they had still been affected. Many of the western trade routes were gone. And there have been many refugees spilling into the eastern realms.
The landscape in the west had changed in both topography and in its soul. What was once a thriving agricultural land where you could live in relative peace had now become a war torn zone of pain, blood and misery. Traveling south of the Blackwater River was nothing short of suicide. That area and all the Wastelands now fell under Orc rule.
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The Hidden Agenda
Oh it’s there. It may be so subtle you can’t find it but it’s always there somewhere. It’s the writer’s hidden agenda. It may be as simple as “Good triumphs over evil” such as in Star Wars or as complex as “The Holocaust” in Toy Story 3 but rest assured the writer’s agenda is there. A writer’s schema isn’t always something the writer consciously admits. And usually the story is better if the author is only vaguely aware of his or her own plan. Also for the reader, discovering what agenda the writer has is not paramount to a good story. I have enjoyed countless stories both on and off screen only to find out years later what was hidden between the lines.
In non-fiction the hidden agenda usually isn’t hidden, if it is maybe the book should be rewritten. However for fiction writers, many may not even realize they are trying to say something when they are creating. I was halfway through writing Darkwater when I realized my hidden agenda. (What is it? Extra cookies if you can guess it)
If you’re not sure what a fiction author’s agenda is for telling the story, it’s not something that should cause you to lose sleep. You should however as a reader, mull over what is the meaning behind the story. Knowing the writer better will give you a more solid foundation for his or her work and help you enjoy a deeper connection with the author.
Writing your Belief
Why did you write that? It’s a common question you’ll receive as an author. And I find often it’s a difficult question to answer. Oh yes, you could give pat answers like, “For the money” or “I always wanted to write a novel” but those are only surface reasons. Those are not the REAL reasons you write.
As a fiction writer it is a good idea to have at least a tentative grasp on why you are writing the novel. Is it to ease the pain of childhood? To grieve for someone? Or To signal a new direction in your life. Or maybe you have something you want to say about the world around us. Like in Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien’s book about Catholicism (yep and you’ll never guess who the parallel is for Jesus Christ).
Whatever your agenda is for writing your piece. Do not feel obligated to push it into your readers face. Few if any books have ever been successful by preaching at their reader. OK, maybe Animal Farm, and the Bible. Though if you read the bible it never forces you to swallow its concepts or beliefs. Though if I were you, I’d take every opportunity to devour the Bible. (Hey do you see my hidden agenda there? I hope so it’s blatantly obvious).
Just remember that your readers may not believe what you do, so don’t make your agenda so obvious its slaps them in the face. Their reading your book because they love the genre or they love you. Either way let them enjoy it. Who knows they may have an epiphany later in which they say “Oh that’s what it was really about.”
How Darkwater came to be
Now I could come right out and say, that I had been developing the world of Xenkur for decades. Toiled over the characters and had an epiphany about writing the book. Puff up my chest so I sound grandiose, “Hey I wrote a novel, look at me!” But the truth is only a small portion of that would be true and I loathe to the core of my soul “hype” for the single purpose of career advancement. That means I would never make it in Hollywood :( The real truth to how Darkwater came to be is so much more ordinary and so much more extraordinary.
I started playing Dungeons and Dragons when I was twelve or thirteen. That’s about the same time I started reading fantasy fiction. I was an unhappy teen (aren’t most?) Found home life boring and annoying, my friends were hell-raisers and druggies and school was a joke. So I turned inward and D&D was a way for me to have a ‘life’ that was thrilling. I mean how much more exciting can life get than using magic and fighting dragons?
Fast-forward to an early 2017. I was at a crossroads, financially and emotionally. I was praying and asking God (sorry if you’re not religious, I am) “What do you (God) want me to do to make a living.” I asked many times a day for a few weeks. I never ‘heard’ an answer in my ear. Yet, clearly God did answer me. I woke up one day and started typing. It had not even occurred to me to writing a novel. Two and half months later, Darkwater was written. A couple more months of editing, etc. and done!
Originally I set out to write three books. The Xenkur trilogy. While I wrote the first book, Darkwater, I had a few ideas for other books. So I thought, yeah, I can write half a dozen books. That would be a solid side income. That’s when God opened the floodgates. I now have fifty-nine (yes 59!) book ideas. That should keep me writing for the next 15 years.
And that’s how Darkwater came to into existence.
Q: Why did you want to become of Knight of the Rose?
A: I felt it my duty. Something inside me, since I was a child, told me to help those who cannot help themselves. I felt I could do this best as a sword arm for Duros.
Q: Can you tell us what happened. Why you are not a Knight of the Rose?
A: I am sorry that is a subject I do not wish to discuss.
Q: If you could live anywhere in Xenkur, where would it be?
A: Hmm... I’ve always been partial to the mountains. They bring out a peace in me I have not found anywhere else. Though I have not seen them, I have heard the Violet Mountains are beautiful.
Q: Do you have any siblings?
A: No. My parents were killed when I was a young child. I was raised by my paternal grandfather.
Q: Is there a woman in your life?
A: Umm... (Rollin fell silent and refused to answer this question)
Q: Do you believe having women in the knighthood is a positive experience?
A: Absolutely. Women have an innate internal strength you won’t find in their male counterparts. They are excellent problem solvers and in my experience have a much better grasp on their emotions then men.
Q: Tell us what is a Black Paladin?
A: A Knight of the Rose that, for whatever reason, is removed from knighthood is cast out of the organization. From the day forward his name in the rosters of the Knights is crossed out in black ink. He is branded a Black paladin and the red rose on his shield is re-painted in black.
Q: How did you get the title, The Winter Dragon?
A: (Rollin laughed) Someone else will have to tell you that story.
Q: What is next for Rollin Ayymon?
A: Difficult to say. I have plans, though Duros may change them at a moment’s notice. For now I will do what I can to help others. Stay close to my friends and do right by those who need me.
That’s what companies on the internet want you to believe. In the marketing research for my new novel Darkwater I found a company that wants (though I doubt they get it often) $ 499 to read and post a (yes that’s one!) review online.
I contacted 53 companies claiming to “skyrocket your book sales” ranging from $7.50 to $339.00. What I found interesting is many of the more expensive companies would NOT get any more people to see your ad then their less expensive counterparts. So why is one company charging $20 for 100,000 people to see your book and another is charging $200?
That’s a question, unfortunately, I can answer, GREED and FEAR. These materialistic companies charging major money online are preying on an author’s fear that he/she won’t get any sales. Using someone else’s, in this case the authors, frailties to line your own pockets is reprehensible. Regrettably that is exactly what all advertising does.
If you are going to pay to advertise your book, and I think you should, remember its advertising and it’s not about the truth it’s about money. So the first thing you should ask any company before you buy is, “Prove it.” You say you have 100,000 subscribers to your newsletter, then let’s see the proof.
Do your research. Don’t let the vague “sales pitch” trick you into spending your hard earned cash. Ask a lot of questions. If the company does not want to answer questions then leave them in the dust. Make sure to ask at least the following
Look I understand that EVERYTHING is a business. That people and companies have to pay bills. But in today’s world price gouging appears common place and it’s clearly out of hand.
P.S. Once all the advertising for my new novel is finished Ill post the results. It may help you decide which ad company to use.
Side note: That gourmet coffee you’re buying has a retail markup of 2,900%. And the worst retail markup of all, Crystal Healing at 2,493,828% over a two million percent markup! http://www.businessinsider.com/products-high-markups-2014-7
Ok, so I published this book, Darkwater. You’ve probably already read it. Then I set about the arduous task of promoting the book. When you’re a new author (and even for established authors) you need to promote like crazy in the beginning until the book goes “viral” and begins selling itself. For my first novel I promoted like crazy for almost three months.
And here are my results:
Book sites the book is available for sale – 55 including the biggies, Amazon, Smashwords, B&N, Kobo, and Goodreads (which belongs to Amazon now)
Book Sites that promote my book - 23 – You would think it would be much more. See "Paying for Listings" below for details.
Book Review Requests – 34 – I received 3 reviews. That’s about average. You’ll get about 10% of the people you contact that will actually post a review. Don’t accept “swapping reviews” from other authors. Amazon frowns on this and may remove the review if they find out. I did it ONCE. I posted a review for this person’s book and he never reciprocated.
Paid for book promo sites – 2 – I thought I’d trying paying for promotion. If you do this know that you WONT recoup your investment on the front end but you might after sales spike some time later. I did it more for reviews and to boost my Amazon sales rank. I didn’t get any reviews but it did boost my sales rank from 691,447 to 88,399. This meant I went from selling 3 books per month to 38 books per month. Since I had such a good result with the paid promos, I will try more when my next book is released the end of August.
And here are my complaints:
Paying for “listings”
MANY of the so called book promo sites charge fees to list your book. Most of the time the fees are small, in the $5-15 US range. That doesn’t seem like a lot of cash outlay. But if you list on many sites, I did 23 free sites (see above). I encountered 174 sites that would list my book for a fee. If I had chosen to do that, say an average cost of $10 US each that’s $1,740! That’s more than my house payment. I'll publish 3-4 books per year. Now the total comes to $ 6,960 year!! And you need to ask yourself, “How many people are seeing this listings?” Many of the sites don’t tell you. That leads me to believe it is very few people.
Contact me, us, them, they, etc.
I searched through countless websites (over 300, ok so I did count) that said they would help promote indie (that’s what they call us independent authors) authors. And I learned two sad facts.
1) The majority of self-published websites. (I.e. sites that people make themselves, not sites that a web designer creates) are awful. I mean just AWFUL. I’m sorry, that sounds mean and judgmental. But please I want to help. If you have no experience designing websites go to Fiverr and for a small fee, usually $ 25-50 US a web designer can make you a nice plain website that won’t scare away your readers.
2) Put your contact information on EVERY page. I searched through so many sites that would say, “contact me and I’ll...” and then nowhere to be found was an email address. Come on! If you tell us to contact you then add the email or even better make the contact me a link.
DW is an author and an artist. He has been creating paintings and photographs for over 40 years. He lives in Eastern Kansas with his daughter, a large epileptic dog, two cats, and a barnyard of chickens and ducks.