Read Local (A proposal)

Dear writers of Santa Barbara County (and thereabouts),
YOU’RE INVITED!
Meeting to start a Read Local movement in our area.
11a Monday Nov 12 (Veteran’s Day)
Lucky Llama Coffee Shop
5100 Carpinteria Ave, Carp 93013

 

What’s this all about?

Last year I moved to Carpinteria and discovered that my neighbors include a great variety of interesting and talented writers. Too few people know this. I’d like to change that.

Many of you feel similarly and quite a few have already organized your own groups to build community among local writers. Let’s get your efforts more widely known, then grow them by developing a Read Local movement.

Purpose: To increase the visibility and value of local writers by sharing our art and entertainment within our communities.

Important: This group does not exist to promote or sell individual writers, but instead to connect writers with their neighbors; to make people aware of, proud of all our local talent. (Indirectly, of course, this can help individuals…)

Mantra(s): Whatever we wind up doing, it needs to be open and friendly, supportive and fun, honest and transparent, sustainable and consistent. Also, we share the workload or we don’t do it.

Models: We wouldn’t be the first such group. For example…

Next Steps:  At the meeting on Nov 12, we’ll discuss which activities attendees would like to pursue, and how to fold ourselves in with existing efforts (especially Out Loud Santa Barbara).  Everything about this proposal is on the table, open to change. Attending the meeting commits you to nothing.

If you want to stay informed about our Read Local, make sure I have your email. (Message me on Facebook or leave a comment on this blog.)

Possible Activities: There are so many ways to take Read Local. Below is a starter set of ideas with simplest at top. (If you have other ideas, we want to hear them!) As you go down the list, the ideas take more resources (people, time, money). (I’ve included my guesstimates on resources.)

To make Read Local sustainable, we need to start small then grow only when enough people commit to tackling new efforts.

===== ACTIVITY IDEA: Finalize name, regional scope, and purpose/mission for this group. 

One time, occasional, or ongoing?: One time, revisit every couple years.

How many people to be sustainable?: I volunteer to lead the effort but welcome help, input and buy-in from as many as possible.

Set-up efforts and costs: 1-3 meetings, 90 minutes each.

===== ACTIVITY IDEA: Find out what writers’ groups and kindred efforts already exist. List them. Over time, help to network them and broadcast them.

One time, occasional, or ongoing?: Ongoing curation of the information.

How many people to be sustainable?: 1-3

Set-up efforts and costs: Canvas local groups.

===== ACTIVITY IDEA: Maintain a Mailchimp database of emails to stay in contact with local writers and those interested in us. Write and send emails sometimes. Update emails as needed.

One time, occasional, or ongoing?: Ongoing

How many people to be sustainable?: 2-3

Set-up efforts and costs: Learn Mailchimp. Input existing emails. Put emails in groups according to interests (ex, writer? reader? wants to hear about author promotions?)

===== ACTIVITY IDEA: Live readings modeled after Out Loud Santa Barbara. Solicit then select submissions to feature 10 varied writers per reading, arrange venue and publicity.

One time, occasional, or ongoing?: Occasional. Every 2 months, opposite Out Loud schedule?

How many people to be sustainable?: 2-3

Set-up efforts and costs: Purchase (then store and schlep) sound system, advertise for submissions, read and select (fairly! transparently!) submissions, publicize event.

===== ACTIVITY IDEA: Add bells and whistles to the live readings. Record the readings then post them? Let the performers sell books for cash-only? … Eventually add credit-card sales?

One time, occasional, or ongoing?: Occasional.

How many people to be sustainable?: 3-5 + treasurer

Set-up efforts and costs: Depends. For recording: equipment? For sales: bookkeeping, bank account, credit card reader and app.

===== ACTIVITY IDEA: Write and email a newsletter. Include free excerpts of local writing. (Can recycle this content for web page or columns, see below…) Solicit contributions, monitor them to uphold group purpose.

One time, occasional, or ongoing?: occasional — monthly? quarterly? annually?

 How many people to be sustainable?: 2-3 with contributions from many

Set-up efforts and costs: time to do writing and maintain consistent, engaging presence

===== ACTIVITY IDEA: Provide free excerpts or short pieces of our writing. On a website/blog? In a newsletter? Maybe in a column in the Coast News?

One time, occasional, or ongoing?: regular, on-going, once a week or once a month.

How many people to be sustainable?: 2-4 with contributions from many

Set-up efforts and costs: time to gather writing and distribute it.

===== ACTIVITY IDEA: Publish an anthology of our writing. In print and as an ebook.

One time, occasional, or ongoing?: One time or very occasional.

How many people to be sustainable?: 2-4 with contributions from many

Set-up efforts and costs: time to gather writing, format, edit. Cost of publishing (depending on length, about $5/paperback via Amazon’s print on demand services.

===== ACTIVITY IDEA: Create and maintain internet presence web page/blog, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, Google Plus? This would include upcoming events, author info, free excerpts. Would likely have one set of content then link or copy to the other social media. Would have to monitor to uphold group purpose.

One time, occasional, or ongoing?: Ongoing

How many people to be sustainable?: 2-4

Set-up efforts and costs: time to do writing and maintain consistent, engaging presence

 ===== ACTIVITY IDEA: Build, steward, and contribute to Little Free Library stands.  There are about 2 dozen stands in south SB County. If we want to add our books we should be good custodians of the system. Investigate coordinating with the littlefreelibrary organization, or copy it? Maybe Carp Arts Center would fund and host a stand that features local authors?

One time, occasional, or ongoing?: Ongoing

How many people to be sustainable?: 2-4 with book donations from many authors.

Set-up efforts and costs: $… $$??

===== ACTIVITY IDEA: Fun freebie events such as geocache treasure hunts with giveaway books as prizes; special themed events (ex a family reunion contest plus a showcase of local memoirs).

One time, occasional, or ongoing?: One-time.

How many people to be sustainable?: Each event needs 2 people.

Set-up efforts and costs: Wildly varied. Will always need publicity and freebies and venues.

===== ACTIVITY IDEA: Annual Writers’ Fair like the spring 2017 event in Carpinteria. Add credit-card sales (which requires bookkeeping and bank account).

One time, occasional, or ongoing?: Once a year but takes effort for at least half the year.

How many people to be sustainable?: 4-6 + treasurer

Set-up efforts and costs: venue, publicity (digital and hard copy), tables and chairs, sound system, planning, schlepping, credit card sales?

===== ACTIVITY IDEA: Become a non-profit or not-for-profit. Set up a leadership group? Appoint a treasurer? Open a bank account? Go after grants and other funding opportunities for our events and their marketing?

One time, occasional, or ongoing?: Ongoing.

How many people to be sustainable?: 3-5?

Set-up efforts and costs: Considerable? Lengthy?

===== ACTIVITY IDEA: Have a table at local farmers’ markets. Sell books of local authors. Provide handouts that include excerpts, newsletter copies, links. Transparent bookkeeping. Establish a rule: If you want us to sell your books at a table, you need to volunteer to man the table and for every X hours that you volunteer, you get to sell your books Y days…

One time, occasional, or ongoing?: One or more days per week?!

How many people to be sustainable?: 6-8 + treasurer.

Set-up efforts and costs: Schlep and store table, books, signs, printed materials. Handle money. Requires bookkeeping and bank account.

Advertisements

Confessions of an Ignorant Book Marketer – Advice Sought!

photo from michaelfruchter.com

Am I making this harder than it should be?

Leave it free or stop the freebie? That is the question.

A detailed recap of the situation so far: a couple days ago, I was surprised to discover that Amazon was offering my ebook, WAS IT A RAT I SAW, for free. It turns out this happened because Amazon will not be undersold, and Sony-US (also unbeknownst to me) was offering the book for free … That, in turn, happened because Sony-US did not update its price after a free promotion ended on Smashwords (which distributes to Sony-US). Sony-US  has now  updated its price, so Amazon has no reason to continue the free promotion.

If that recap is confusing and doesn’t seem worth the time to sort out, here is the bottom line: it is now up to me. Do I continue the free promotion on Amazon?  Answer: I dunno. So: anyone with experience or opinion, please weigh in!

Here are my conflicting facts and questions:

  • In a couple days, there have been more than 1000 free downloads (to me that seems like a lot)!
  • Are these downloaders readers? reviewers? Or simply hoarders of free stuff?
  • My first priority as a writer is to have people actually read my novels.
  • My second priority is to get reviews on line.
  • Third priority (yet still a priority!) is to have people purchase my novels.
  • My “sales” ranking among the free ebooks has moved from infinity to measurable.
  • The “sales” rankings seem quite sensitive to minor variations in totals. Mine now  fluctuates between #200 and #400.
  • How long might it take to break the Top 100 Free Ebooks list?
  • Is there value in doing so?

What do you think about maintaining the freebie? I’m inclined to let it ride for a few more days and see what evolves. Is there a downside I’m not seeing?

P.S. To download your own free copy of WAS IT A RAT I SAW, start here.

P.P.S. Photo from michaelfruchter.com.

Book Promotion – News to Me!

Cover art by Lars Huston.

Cover art by Lars Huston.

The author is sometimes the last to know. Amazon currently offers my novel WAS IT A RAT I SAW for free. I don’t know how long the promotion will last. I don’t know how Amazon customers are even made aware of it, yet there are many downloads, so somebody is in this loop!

I have chosen to avoid snarky reactions about wanting to retain control. I am instead opting for This is an interesting turn of events. Wonder where it will all lead.

Anyway – if you had meant to get an e-copy during my recent Smashwords promotion, you might as well pop over to Amazon and get a copy there.

WAS IT A RAT I SAW is a psychological thriller involving split brain research, animal rights, and a love quadrangle. If you do read it, please post a review! (Let me know if you need guidance about how or where to post reviews.)

To Read or To Re-Read? (Musings and mini-reviews)

My To Read list is decades long, so I rarely stop to re-read a book, no matter how much I love it. Lately I’ve made exceptions, though, for books that mattered to me long ago. With some, I’ve been curious about whether they would hold up. With others, I’ve simply wanted to reunite with old friends.

Thus, over the last year, I have discovered that these books hold up well:

Stand on Zanzibar by John Brunner, a 1960s skew on a dystopian future, many details of which are now Life As We Know It. Brunner writes this in a style that was unusual in the ’60s and remains distinctive today. Some people lose patience with it. Give it 50 pages to settle in.

In Deep by Patricia Cooper, a brooding character study of a smart, troubled woman with tangled, suspect relationships. Cooper’s writing is edgy yet smooth and insightful. I wish she had continued to write novels.

After Leaving Mr. MacKenzie and Good Morning Midnight by Jean Rhys, portraits of independent, sensual women, damaged by life in a society where women were supposed to be neither.

If chick lit had books like the above, I would seek it out.

Double Indemnity by James M. Cain, a perfect slice of noir. Here, every word counts, making it an excellent training for any aspiring writer. Reading it reminded me I need to watch the movie again, with a brilliant script by Raymond Chandler.

Which brings me to Chandler.  I have been happy to (again) reconnect with all seven of Raymond Chandler’s novels.  He remains my favorite author. If you have never read him, start with Farewell My Lovely.

As you may have guessed, I recommend all of these books.

Book Review: “Dirty Work” by Reid Farrel Coleman

3 STARS

Nothing overtly wrong with this book – potentially interesting characters including a detective who is a midget with a chip on his shoulder, okay story. But the writing is far too spare and simple for my tastes. I prefer mysteries with atmosphere and complexity.

This is a very thin book part of a series called Rapid Reads. Apparently the idea is that you can knock it off in one sitting.

I got this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

A New Introduction to a Previous Self

I continue to limp deeper into the retype* of ?Was It A Rat I Saw?, my psychological thriller involving real-life split brain research, animal rights, and a love quadrangle. I haven’t read the book in years and retyping also means rereading, which holds surprises for me:

  • I’m always my harshest critic but I like ?Rat? although I would do everything differently now.  I have resisted the urge to rewrite – that way lies madness.
  • The real brain science still shocks, chills, excites me.
  • I don’t remember much of my own book and the retyping gets derailed when I read ahead to see what happens next.
  • I couldn’t write this book today. I am not the same person. This book captures a slice of my life, perspective, attitudes at a particular moment that is now long gone.

I had a plan to publish each of the four sections of ?Rat?, chapter by chapter, to this blog during the four weeks in August. There are several chapters in each section. This week, I published one chapter. Not one section. One chapter.

I call it a sign of psychological health that I no longer calculate how behind I am.

I believe the retype should now pick up speed. First, I have adapted to being back at my day job and getting All Else done in scattered shards of time. When I started the re-type, I was home lounging around after hip replacement surgery, with nothing but time. Second, I have just finished a first draft (yahoo!) of my latest novel, the fantasy detective series opener Frames. That is written in a different style than ?Rat? and I backed off from retyping when I realized it was influencing the style of the new book.

Good excuses for the slowdown, eh wot? No doubt next week I will have occasion to manufacture yet others.

*?Was It A Rat I Saw? was previously published in hardcover by Bantam-Doubleday-Dell. Now I’m publishing it electronically, first as a serial and then as an e-book.

Here are some ?Rat? Reviews on Goodreads.

Book Review: “Ghost Moth” by Michele Forbes

4 STARS

Written with insight, grace, and truth, this evocative novel does a wonderful job capturing the workings of this family, its time and place (Northern Ireland, deep in the midst of “The Troubles”, 1960s-later), and the past that haunts them. The change of pace at the end was unnecessarily dragging, in my opinion, and some of the secrets did not entirely convince me. But this is a fine and well-crafted book; well worth a read. I am happy I received this book free in exchange for review.

Recommended.

I got this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

P.S. Here is a synopsis of the book with adjectives by the publisher.