Luck and the Writer

Four_Leaf_Clover_03[1]Back in February, I discussed the concept of success, after reading Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Outliers: The Story of Success. Today, I want to focus on the concept of luck.

I read an interesting blog about a month ago by thriller writer Joe Konrath. He writes an excellent blog about the writing biz, and as a hybrid author with a substantial backlist, he has a lot to say about publishing, promoting, and marketing. You can find his blog HERE. He also has an interesting take on why most authors’ marketing plans won’t work. What it comes to, in his view, is luck. But the question then becomes, how does one become luckier?

Some people call luck a matter of preparation meeting opportunity. I don’t disagree. I remember reading an article about a Canadian woman who’d been incredibly lucky at winning contests. She had a room filled with prizes. When asked what made her so lucky, she said it was because she probably entered more contests than most people. In fact, she had turned contest-entering into a full time job.

Yesterday, I came across a similar article about folks who constantly win sweepstake prizes. In fact, there’s a whole group of them who take this so seriously that they’re referred to as sweepers. You can read more about them HERE. I was struck by the comment from one of the frequent contest winners, who stated that luck had nothing to do with her large haul. It was about effort and persistence.

Sometimes luck truly does seem to come out of the blue. Maybe a horrific car crash you managed to avoid by just one minute has nothing to do with persistence and effort. Maybe carrying a four-leaf clover or talisman does help some people, who knows?

Personally, I believe that luck often emerges from a series of decisions, opportunities, and right-time, right-place circumstances. But even that’s not the whole picture. Maybe there’s no rhyme nor reason why someone’s thriller gains fabulous attention and mega sales while an equally well-crafted thriller with a gorgeous cover and an amazing back cover blurb doesn’t. We could speculate that if the “unlucky” author had targeted his market differently or tried a different promotion strategy, then maybe it would have made a difference. On the other hand, maybe it wouldn’t have. We can drive ourselves crazy wondering over stuff like that.

Joe’s answer to making one’s luck is to keep writing books. He doesn’t discount using ads, blogs, social media, etc, for promotion, but he makes it clear that those efforts won’t guarantee any sales. Writing is the only thing you can really control, he says, and if you keep doing it and getting better at it, you just might get lucky enough to have a bestseller on your hands. For many of us, isn’t that the dream which lets our imaginations run wild, that gets us out of the bed every morning and open to all possibilities?

Advertisements

Pondering a BookBub Promotion

Following up with last week’s blog about the Left Coast Crime Conference, I want to say that it was amazing. I was too busy catching up with fellow writers and meeting mystery fans from the U.S. to take pictures, but others took photos which have popped up on social media. Anyway, I totally recommend this conference for mystery writers and fans. Next year’s event will be in San Diego.

BookBub imageNow to current business. For some time, I’ve subscribed to BookBub’s book notification service. It’s a free site where subscribers can sign up and learn about great deals on free or discounted books. Authors can also submit their books for consideration and create their own profile, which I did a while back.

I’ve heard mixed reviews from authors about paying to feature their ebooks on the site. The main complaint is that BookBub’s fees are high–several hundred dollars, in fact. The more you want to charge for your book (the maximum is $3.99), the higher the fee is.

The approval process is also daunting. BookBub accepts only a fraction of the 100-300 daily submissions it receives. If you’re turned down you must wait another month to reapply. Also, they prefer books that have already obtained lots of reviews, although I’m told there are exceptions.

Still, BookBub sends daily emails to millions of subscribers and featured books can sell thousands of copies in a couple of days. A mystery writing colleague I met at LCC tried it with great results. So, I took a look at BookBub’s submission requirements and realized I have some prep work to do before even submitting my first Casey Holland mystery, The Opposite of Dark.

I’ll have to write a shorter book blurb, double check all my links and find a couple more, as well as the original price for my ebook, which is listed in five different countries. I also should be adding Amazon links in the back pages of The Opposite of Dark . Hmm.

I’m overwhelmed with busyness right now and, given the high fee, I’m still pondering if this is a good investment. Not everyone makes their money back, so if any of you have used BookBub to promote your books, I’d love to hear about your experience. Do you think that paying to feature your book on this site is worth your time and money?

Book Launch Memories

Speaking at Golden Ears, Oct 21, 2014This week, I had the pleasure of attending a book launch for a colleague who’s about to have her first children’s book published. It’s been a long haul for her, and I wanted to get my hot-off-the-press copy. Her name, by the way, is Eileen Holland and her book is Sophie Trophy (I hope to have her guest blog in the near future!). It’s a delightful story for the 8 to 10 age group.

Her event Monday night was held in the same room where I launched my second novel back in 2008. Seeing Eileen’s happiness and exuberance brought back great memories of other book launches I’ve attended and hosted, and I have to say there’ve been a few of them. Looking back, I’ve attended launches at arts centers, community halls, libraries, bookstores, a pub, a restaurant, a church, and of course, there’s been a few Facebook online launches.

My first launch back in 1995 is still one of my favorites, not just because this was my first published book but because it was a house party for friends, families, and writing colleagues. We served a lot of food and wine that night, I sold books, and everyone had a good time. Best of all, I didn’t have to worry about being out of the room by a certain time or cleaning up early. Honestly, if I hold another one, I might just do it again, which brings me to my second point. Will I ever do another launch? Even though, I’ll be bringing out book number ten over the next few months, it’s not a question I can answer right now.

While I didn’t hold a physical launch for my latest Casey Holland mystery, Knock Knock, I did the usual launch-day announcements. It was the third week of November and I was in over my head with weekend craft fairs, the day job, and my publisher’s launch of one of my novellas a week after that.

While it’s still gratifying to see a new book in print, I’m not overly excited to be the center of attention again. The speech preparation, venue rental, RSVPs, and catering issues have always caused this introvert a fair bit of anxiety. Still, maybe another house party is the answer. We’ll see. The Blade Man is coming either later this year or early next…I’ll let you know when.

Reading Goals This Year and Next

girl[1]Back in August, I blogged about my favorite reads so far this year. I had read 27 books at that point, but still had 23 to go to reach my reading goal of 50 books in 2018. By the time November rolled around, I was seriously behind in achieving that goal.

One book a week doesn’t sound like a lot, but with day jobs, family responsibilities, and daunting writing goals, it became more difficult as the year progressed.

Since I’ve been on a leave of absence from the day job, I’ve had more reading time. I also chose fiction that wasn’t 500 pages or more. Some of the nonfiction I read this year was pretty intense, and took a while to get through. So it’s not surprise that my favorite reads these past four months are all fiction:

. Force of Nature by Jane Harper

. Miami Requiem by J.B. Turner

. Judgment Road by Christine Feehan

. Trickster Draft by Eden Robinson

. The Watchmaker’s Daughter by C.J. Archer

. Land of Hidden Fires by Kirk Kjeldsen

. The Amulet Thief by Luanne Bennett

. Bound by Kirsten Weiss

Goodreads tells me that I’ve reached 98% of my reading goal, and as I’m just finishing another book, I’ll make my target, then jump right into my first nonfiction of the year, which is Judi Dench’s biography, And Furthermore.

It’s going to another great year of fiction and nonfiction reading, and the goal will be the same. I’ll be back at the day job in a month, and more challenges will be coming this year. Still, I can’t wait to discover new authors and different worlds.

A Happy New Year of reading to everyone!

 

Gratitude

I started this blog entry on Canada’s Thanksgiving, a couple of days ago. Our family celebrated on Sunday evening at my home, and given the challenging year that some family members have endured, it was especially wonderful to see everyone gathered together, enjoying themselves.

It’s made me pause and reflect about how grateful I am for many things. Family, friends, my health, and a passion for writing that goes back nearly forty years. I’ve learned a lot, accomplished a fair bit, and still have a lot to learn. A fact that really appeals to me. Who knows what the next few years will bring? I just know that I’ll be grateful for every experience that will teach me something.

I hope all of my Canadian friends had a wonderful, peaceful Thanksgiving.

All Hallows Story NightSpeaking of gratitude, I’ve just been invited to take part in an evening of readings with a terrific group of local writers. The event will be held at Western Sky Books in Port Coquitlam on Tues., October 23, from 7 to 9 pm. You can find more details HERE. Please join this for great entertainment at All Hallows Night!