Learning Curve

Image Credit: JF Pixabay

Ever since I started this self-publishing journey I’ve learned a few things, some good, some bad (mostly good) but I will not trade this experience for anything, it continues to be fun and challenging, exhilarating, frustrating and fantastic. Along the way; I’ve learned a few things about myself and about people in general. Self-publishing comes with a steep learning curve, a curve I’m still learning to navigate as I go along. Meanwhile I thought I would write a post about a few things I’ve learned so far. Read on…

Lower Your Expectations Writer Boy.

That’s right; high expectations make fools of all of us, especially when you write a book and no one cares or knows who the hell you are. I used to get on a high anytime I would hit publish, thinking that readers would flock to the book like it’s the second coming, well that shit doesn’t happen and it probably never will, See, self-publishing still lacks the respect it rightfully deserves, some might disagree with this but that’s been my experience so far. I’ve since learned to be okay with it. The trick here is to accept it; otherwise you’ll be fucking miserable and life is too short for that shit.

Flakes Are Us

‘Say what you mean and mean what you say.’ Remember that lesson from mom and dad? Well that shit is gone. Nowadays people don’t practice such trivialities as ‘keeping their word’ maybe I’m naïve, but keeping your promises to others, used to be a good thing; nowadays you can’t hang your hat on other people and their promises. I’ve learned to take—most of everything—that people say to me in this business, with a spoon of salt, most folks don’t practice what they preach either. Sadly I think this trend is rubbing off on me. Sigh.

There’s No Money in Writing

Hard to believe but it’s true. I don’t know a single author who’s actually making a living with their writing, sure, some would claim that they’re rolling in it, see above and take it with a shovel of salt because the only one’s making a killing are the big names we all know and love. So, family and friends? Sorry to disappoint you but I’m not rolling in cash, and just so you know? I don’t write to get rich, I write because I love to tell a good story and no, I’m not on my way to fortune and fame, but if I was to choose I would choose the former because being poor sucks ass.

Write My Story

Yep, everyone wants you to write their story. When I first moved in to my new digs the landlord found out I was a writer and he proposed that I should write his biography. I’m sure his life is probably interesting, full of action and adventure but writing is a job and I don’t want to write about another New York slumlord pretending to be poor yet somehow interesting. Nobody needs that shit; now fix the dripping pipe double-o-seven.

Sell Me a Book

This one is kicking me in the shins because I still don’t know much about marketing as I’d rather be writing. I might get the hang of it someday, but for now this is it. I want to take this opportunity to thank the few people who are kind enough to read and buy my books; I hope you enjoyed them, I hope you know they come from a place of love and respect for the art of writing, something that I’ll keep doing every time I sit down and write. That’s a promise, and I keep my promises.

Okay I’m off to update my dating profile. You should do the same. Later!

A Sweet & Short Update

The Mullet, neon colors, pastel colors, cheesy pop tunes, and cocaine; as the drug-du jour, plus the Golden Age of heavy metal. What better place in which to set a story right? Well, guess what? Yours truly is taking the plunge by writing a story which takes place in that era. This new story is much more than simple nostalgia though. Is a fictional story set mostly in the town of St. Petersburg, Pinellas Park, Florida. The opening scene came to me in a flash of imaginary flight of fancy, as most good ideas tend to.

Now, I know I mentioned that my next story was going to be a serial-killer type number. No worries; chill homie, chill. I’m not ditching it (is still in the works, I’ve got 7,156 words going on it) but this new story has a hook on me. It wants to come out and play, so I’m writing it. The working title of the story is Gray Salt, the tag line is: Drugs, Heavy Metal & Murder; a coming-of-age-story. The research is a lot of fun and I’m having a blast writing it. The 1980’s were colorful years indeed, as colorful as a comic book. Stay stoned, eh, I mean, stay tune…

And that, as they say, is my report from the writerly trenches. Y’all have a good one.

Too—doo—loo.

Short Updates

—I ran a two- book giveaway on Goodreads of my short novel Desperados and, as always, it was a smashing success. 458 people entered the contest. I know I’m not pulling a million people or even a thousand like the big guys pull but hey, not too shabby for a guy no one’s ever heard of right? The books are on the way to the winners. And yes I’m well aware that people love free shit, everybody does, including me. But like I always say: a giant leap begins with baby steps. Painful baby steps but baby steps nonetheless.

—I decided to re-edit BLACK PILLS & RED BULLETS, one of the first books I ever wrote and published. Why? Because, since then, and in a lot of ways; I’ve grown a lot as a writer, plus I’ve had a few complains about it, meanly that some of the stories didn’t make much sense. The thing that was very eye-opening to me is that it was edited for publication by a professional editor. And they didn’t catch any of these nonsensicalities. When I re-edited it myself a bunch of weeks back, I did see where some folks would feel lost and confused by what was on the page, so I went to work and got it right and tight. I still can’t believe I paid so much moolah to an editor who obviously didn’t care about the piece. What can I say? Those are some of the perils of being a self-published writer. At the end of the day though, that’s all on me, I was the one who went and hit that “publish” button. So, if per-chance, you bought that book I want to thank you from the bottom of my lovely black heart, and offer my sincerest apologies. Since it has been updated I’m sure you will not be disappointed with this new edition, if it’s still in your Kindle give it a second read and let me know what you think. If you haven’t purchase a copy, you can still do so as it is available for ALL e-readers, and it’s still at the same price that it was before of only $0.99.

—If you enjoy short fiction I got a blogitty in which I’ll upload the occasional short story and, or flash fiction (it was getting a little too crowded here). Head on over to: BULLET BITES BACK and give it a whirl…

Hey, thanks for the visit. Go get your read on playa.

Too-doo-loo

Work for Us. Work for Free!

Nobody likes working for free, nobody should. It amazes me how many asshats want writers to work for free in this day and age. When I go to the supermarket I’m expected to pay cold hard cash or with a valid credit card; not with ‘exposure’ same goes for when the landlord comes knocking on my door expecting cold hard cash. I suspect he will not respond kindly if I was to tell him that my being a dweller in his building will bring him great ‘exposure’.

When you’re starting out in this writerly business you’ll do anything to get your work out there, you’ll bend over backwards and forward. I’m here to tell you that you need to reel that shit in real quick, because there’s a bunch of unscrupulous douchebags just waiting for a hungry author like you so they can pounce on and take advantage of—do not fall for this giant bucket of bullshit.

If anyone tells you that when you’re starting out, you need to ‘pay to play’ just tell them that they can eat a giant turd sandwich, with a side- order of fuck you. Writing is a lot of fun but it’s also a lot of work, it takes time and effort, but mainly; it’s a lot of fucking work okay? My time, your time is important and it should be respected. This tirade comes to you courtesy of websites that claim to be hip and ‘in the know’ when it comes to cool writers, cool topics and connections while expecting writers to work for free for ‘exposure.’

To those sites. To those people I say: see this? Its call a middle finger.

My 2 Cents.

Q & A

Late last month, gentleman scholar, and all-around good guy Colman Keane was kind enough to shoot a few questions my way for his site Col’s Criminal Library. I’ve taken the liberty of copy/pasting  said interview onto this site because, sometimes, I’m lazy like that. If you’d rather read the original, just click HERE.

A hearty thank you to Mr. Colman Keane for the lovely Q & A. Enjoy!

I’ll assume the writing isn’t full time, so what’s the day job?

You assume correctly. I moonlight as a condom tester. Kidding, I work for a company that does horseracing data. Not as exciting as a rubber tester, but it pays the bills.

Call it a hunch, but I’m guessing the uber-cool Verge Le Noir moniker isn’t something your parents came up with – is your real identity a well-guarded secret? Why not publish your books under your real name?

No my parents are not that cool—at all. I’m just a cat who’s scared of his own writing so he hides under a too-cool-for-school nom de guerre in order to appease the God’s of writerly things. My name is not a well-guarded secret, I’m not in the witness protection program or anything as exciting as that, matter of fact, my writer bio has just been updated on Amazon where I use my real name, (and new mug shot) I will however, still use my pen name because is way cooler than my real name which is Virgilio Feldman. Try fitting that on a small book cover.

What’s been the most satisfying moment of your writing career so far?

Honest to the Gods of Beer? Doing this Q & A. And having people read the stuff I write.

What’s your typical writing schedule?

I don’t have one; I slip the writing whenever I can. I’m lucky I get to write at all. I typically try to cram as much writing as possible on my days off. Sorry ladies…

Do you insert family, friends, and colleagues into your characters?

I’ve only done it in my short novel Desperados sparingly—and it’s mostly overly exaggerated anecdotes from an acquaintance here and there, or family members, but for the most part I don’t do it.

Are you a plotter, or do you make it up as you go along?

I like to let the characters take me wherever they want to go, so I make it up as I go along. Most smart writers swear by plotting, I see it as painting yourself into a corner and that doesn’t jive with moi. Maybe I will try it someday.

Are there any subjects off limits?

Nothing’s off limits I hate censorship.

Desperados features the journey of a young immigrant coming to America from the south, any parallels with your own life or are you a home-grown American citizen?

Good question. I was lucky enough to migrate legally to the U. S. from Honduras about thirty years ago. I did mined a few things about my life for Desperados, lets’ see: I’m from the same Islands that the character Lester talks about, I was once duped by a cousin into becoming a bracero in the State of Georgia for about two months in hell, we lived in trailers in the middle of nowhere making shit money, on the weekends we would shop at a Piggy Wiggly. A manager of a restaurant I used to work at did the orange juice bit to a waitress once. The character of Leonide or Leo is based on a good friend of mine who hails from the Ivory Coast by way of France but that’s where the similarities end. These are the few things I can think of from the top of my head; the rest is pure imagination and research.

I believe you’ve self-published all your work to date, is that a conscious move? Have you tried the “traditional” route via an existing publisher?

A conscious move indeed, I don’t know anyone in the publishing business, and I won’t know how to approach anyone on that side of things, besides they only seem to be interested in bestselling authors and celebrities. They want an established brand. So yeah I’m self- published all the way. For every one of my books though, I hire a professional editor, a book formatter and make my own book covers. I just don’t see what a traditional publisher can do for a guy like me. I honestly don’t see it. For prestige? Piss-off. The world doesn’t need another ‘tastemaker’ or ‘bouncer’ at the exclusive writers club. My humble opinion and it can change, but for now I’m happy as a clam in salt water doing things this way.

How difficult is it to attract a readership?

In a scale of one to ten, I would have to say One Hundred. A Hunter Thompson quote comes to mind, he said: “It’s like trying to wrestle a T-bone steak from a hammerhead shark.” Similar to that or thereabout.  Although a lot of it is my fault, I’m a lousy salesman, I don’t know much about promotion, pushing product etcetera, etcetera. I’m still learning, for the most part I just concentrate on writing an entertaining story.

Your works so far are Desperados – a novel, Killing Crows – a long short story, Shell Casings and Black Pills and Red Bullets – two short story collections. Is there one of your books you’re more proud of than any of the others? Which and why?

Tricky question, like: who is your favorite child? The red-headed bastard is my favorite! In this case they’re all my favorite red-headed bastards. In all honesty; the last one I wrote—Desperados—is my favorite because is the closest I’ve come to cannibalizing parts of my life in order to write a good story. It’s a bit personal I suppose. I must say though; Shell Casings seems to be people’s favorite, even my editor liked it a lot.

What’s the current project in progress? How’s it going?

I’m juggling a couple of projects, but the one that seems to be ahead its call Two Iguanas Lounge and it features a couple of the characters from the short story: Lizards Lounge (a short story you can find in the book: Black Pills & Red Bullets) In Two Iguanas Lounge, I’ll introduce a private detective by the name of Troy Declan Molloy and a Lieutenant by the name of Samira Andrade, these two team up in order to take down a serial killer who’s terrorizing a small Arizona town. It’s going a bit slow. We’ll see how it turns up, in the meantime; I’ll be uploading to my website, some short- stories, and my ramblings as usual.

What’s the best thing about writing?

Bedding all the women who find the broke-ass writer irresistible. Kidding, the best thing about writing is coming up with bat-shit crazy scenarios in which your characters can play and then having people read it. It’s magical. Writing is a lot of fun, you can’t beat that.

The worst?

Meeting women who don’t fall for the broke-ass writer. Kidding, (somewhat). The worse is trying to get the story to the right audience. That’s brutal.

What are the last five books you have read?

  1. Lee Child’s Night School
  2. Hollywood by Charles Bukowski
  3. Re-read Elmore Leonard’s Rum Punch—brilliant book.
  4. You by Caroline Kepnes—well plotted, well written.
  5. The Sellout by Paul Beatty—quite possibly one of my favorite books from 2016

Who do you read and enjoy?

Love Elmore Leonard, Christa Faust is phenomenal, Charles Bukowski always kills it, Junot Diaz inspires, Stephen Hunter knows his shit, Dennis Lehane thrills and so does Michael Connelly. I really wish Diablo Cody would write another book, because whenever I need a chuckle I grab my copy of her book Candy Girl, and I swear; whatever pages you land on in that book, you’ll sure to find a giggle or two.

Is there any one book you wish you had written?

Zero Saints by Gabino Iglesias— mind-blowingly good.

Favourite activity when not working or writing?

Falling in love from a plane without a parachute. A. k. a.  Reading, hanging out in dive bars or watching Netflix.

In a couple of years’ time…

Hopefully I’ll have a few more books; therefore I’ll—hopefully—have a few more readers.

 

The Fine Art of Pitching.

pixabayIt has been said that pitching is the cornerstone for all marketing; if that’s the case, then yours truly really sucks at it.

Yeah it’s going to be one of those rants.

But wait—if you’re writer—stick around and I’ll tell you where you can place a FREE ad, for your free book or short story, a place where you’ll get a bunch of download and  hopefully readers. Okay back to bitching, I mean; pitching. Here’s the pitch (blurb/synopsis) for my FREE short story Killing Crows.

Newly minted family man Bobby Herrera got pinched for robbing a bodega. Now he’s looking at twenty years. His new cellmate, Clayton Stanton Jr., is a dark and violent man. A killer with a big secret—a secret that can set Bobby free or get him killed.

Its chess not checkers at Federal Correctional Institution Ray Brook in Upstate New York.

Admittedly, I’m biased, because I wrote the damn thing. Naturally, as the writer, I don’t see anything wrong with it. The blurb gives the names of the main protagonists and the gist of the story—without giving away the whole enchilada. Reddit is a great place for a lot of cool stuff, I really like the place. Their self-publish sub-reddit helped me a lot when I was starting out in this journey, and to help writers promote their writing; they’ve added a few places where a writer can advertise their books and shorts stories for FREE, without coming across as a spambot douche.

Those sub-reddits are:

/r/freeebooks   /r/kindlefreebies  /r/efreebies   /r/wroteabook   /r/bookdownloads.

So I added my FREE short story Killing Crows to all of those sub-reddits. But apparently my pitch sucked because pretty soon I had some messages that told me so. Here’s the abridge version of some of them:

*Drop back five yards and punt, kiddo.

*Hmm… I’m gonna pass. There’s a grammatical error in the last line.

*Your blurb is very short, doesn’t hook me, and contains at least one grammatical mistake. That’s enough to turn me away.

*I was intrigued by the title, but the cover and blurb didn’t grab me.  

I’m no grammar Nazi, but I understand where these folks are coming from, who wants a miserable reading experience right?  Despite of all that was said above; I stand by my story, It’s a solid piece of work, a testament to that is this AMAZON REVIEW I don’t see the mistakes or problems with that blurb and neither did the TWO editors whom I paid to helped me edit and prof-read it—I’m stumped, that being said, as of this writing, the story has been downloaded by 54 people, and counting, so hopefully they’ll like the story and leave an honest review—that’s all I can hope for.

Look, in no way am I comparing myself to the great Hemingway (I write pulpy crime fiction for fucks sake) but I wonder; if he was a writer today, how on earth would he find the time to go fishing in the Florida Keys, take in a genuine Spanish bullfight, smoke hand- rolled cigars in Cuba, and write great books about his adventures, if he had Tweets to send, Facebook to update, write rants to post on his blog, pin pins on Pinterest, do whatever it is that folks do on Instagram, buy Google ads, buy Twitter ads, figure out how to buy Facebook ads, make print books, find a way to get a mailing list going—somehow, and beg people to read his book on Goodreads, Twitter, Reddit, and Facebook., etc.  If Papa Hemingway was a self-publishing author today, he would probably blow his brains out…Oh wait, bad example.

Terrible, jet-black humor aside, this promo thing has proven to be quite the challenge. At times it feels like a tremendous waste of time, but hey, that seems to be the new normal for us self-publishers these days, good thing I enjoy writing a cool and solid page turner, otherwise I won’t be doing this.

‘Till next Time Buckaroos.

Pimping Books—Part Due.

pimp-hatCaptain’s log; star date Sunday, August 07, 2016. I’ve entered the labyrinthine world of buying ads by clicking on Twitter ads, used a ‘Twitter web card’ I was prompted to make, and bought an ad for $2.00 a day, with the objective to run it for one week, on a budget of $10 a week. I’m still not sure if it went through, I thought Twitter was going to be easier that Google, maybe it is, regardless I’m still scratching my head over that one.

Captain’s log supplemental; star date Monday, August 08, 2016. Re-entered the labyrinthine world of buying ads by opening a Google AdWords account, which turned out to be easy. If you have a Google account already, you can use that one, which is what I did. Writing the ad, on the other hand, was limiting because they have an established amount of words you can type to write the ad, concise is the name of the game here. Once again, I started with $2.00 a day, which—if I understand this correctly—Google will charge only if a person clicks on the ad, I wanted to add a budget limit to this, but I couldn’t find how. We’ll see how it goes.

Captain’s log; star date Wednesday, August 10, 2016. After much digging, prodding and clicking on stuff, I finally managed to find the ads panel on Facebook. This social platform has been a navigational pain in the neck for me over the years, and they keep changing it, I’m guessing is because I have a ‘fan page’ and not a ‘personal page’? Anyway, got my credit card ready to put some of my hard-earned greenbacks into Mr. Zuckerberg’s pocket (Not like he needs any more) and skipped through a lot of instructional stuff (You’ll need a whole day to read it all) clicked-off the ABP, and I hit the create ad button. Then, that annoying circling loading signal from hell came on, waited, waited some more.  Logged out, logged in again, and the wheelie from hell keeps spinning and spinning on the ads manager page. I had to get ready for work, will probably try again some other time (that’s a big old maybe)—ugh.

Update: As of this posting, Google Ad Words has accepted my add, is up and running, so far I’ve had 17 clicks with a cost of $0.27 cents a click, which brings my total cost for today to $4.53 with zero sales. Although, this is a very interesting and exciting way for gathering interest for my book(s) this has proven to be a lot of work, work that requires time and patience, plus moolah. Truth be told; I’d rather be writing my next book.

Gotta keep, keeping on though.

Later!