Book-Signing: Barnes & Noble, Springfield, Illinois

Had a wonderful time at the book signing this past Saturday at @BNSpfld - While the walk-in crowd was a bit low, due to other events happening in Springfield, Amanda and the staff put together a great selection of authors and I commend their efforts. I enjoyed meeting several new readers who picked up my books and I hope they come back for more.

In all there were twenty-five area authors spanning both fiction and non-fiction, including self-help, sci-fi, mystery, YA, and so much more.  

Looking forward to the next one and will be sure to give followers of this site advance notice so you can make plans to attend.

The Labyrinthian World of (Fake) Book Reviews

I must admit that, as an author with nine books and two novellas under my belt, sometimes I feel like one of those poor souls, standing on the side of the road, holding up a sign that reads: Will Write for Reviews.

And just like in that scenario, most people just stare ahead, not wanting to make eye contact, as they wait for the light to change. I think that is the way it feels for many writers, pleading with their readers to just spare a minute of their time to give a review, but why is it so damn important?

Well, here is a shining example:

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What you are looking at is ‘legalized’ cheating. This is just one of the many sites that will ‘help’ authors quickly obtain an unearned bestseller status for the right price.

To break it down: If you are a writer, with a bunch of disposable cash, you can legitimately buy your way onto the Amazon bestseller list. Admittedly, this is a pretty shady way of doing business, and something that is ‘frowned upon’ by Amazon, but it is technically not a violation of their policies. Ironically, they will allow authors to ‘buy reviews’ from strangers, but an earnest review left by someone they deem to be a family member will be immediately purged. Go figure.

Unfortunately, I don’t know that many self-published authors who have that kind of money lying around, so those looking to utilize this method are generally already successful enough to justify this expenditure or have a publisher willing to aggressively push a product.

Consider for a moment this little scenario:

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I, like most authors I know, would kill for those numbers, but let’s dig a little deeper here for a moment. The author attributed to this amazing rank status has just ONE previously published book under their belt and that novel has clocked in exactly 39 reviews. However, their second book, which is the one represented in all those coveted #1 and #2 spots, has racked up an amazing 323 reviews, but it hasn’t even been released yet. Yes, you read that correctly; the author’s second book, which has taken the top spots on several lists, is not even available yet.  You do the math and see how that adds up.

I’d like to say this is an aberration, but it is not. Getting onto any bestseller list, especially if it is the New York Times or USA Today, is the goal of all authors. It is the literary world’s equivalent of the Super Bowl or World Series, but it is unfortunately very, very skewed and can be manipulated.

Take for instance the curious case of: Handbook for Mortals, written by Lani Sarem. This debut book emerged in early August 2017 and that very same month shot to #1 on the NYT Bestseller List, knocking off a well-established book that had previously held that spot. To say this was a considerable feat would be a gross understatement; especially considering this was not only Ms. Sarem’s first novel, but it was also the first novel from her publisher; which is exactly why it raised so many eyebrows.

So how did this happen?

Well, they apparently identified and exploited a weak link. According to the folks within the Young Adult genre, who immediately began investigating this issue, they found some serious inconsistences / anomalies within the book sales. After speaking to representatives from book stores, they concluded that someone had pre-arranged for large purchases of the book through various sellers they knew reported sales to the NYT.  Effectively, they purchased their way onto the NYT Best Seller List. The author / publisher denied this, but the NYT subsequently pulled the book from their list. Unfortunately, traditional publishing houses have been doing this for a very long time.

Sadly, this is the world that authors live in. For those of us who believe in the sanctity of the review process, we are faced with those who see no problem in fast-tracking their way to the top. Often we are told that other authors are not our competition, but the reality is that this is a naïve belief. Authors ARE in competition with one another for the readers in each genre, but it is a game that is made exponentially harder when the system is manipulated. That is why it is truly so important, for those of us who actually play by the rules, that our readers support our efforts.

A book review only takes a minute, but for that struggling, self-published author, it is like handing them a piece of gold. For those of us who still choose to do things the right way, instead of the easy way, it is probably the only recognition we will get, but maybe, just maybe, your review will be the one that propels our book to critical acclaim.

So what do you say? Roll the dice and reward your favorite author with a review!

Don’t forget to sign up for my free monthly NEWSLETTER.

Book Signing Event – Barnes & Noble (Springfield, Illinois)

Hey folks, just a reminder that I will be taking part in a book-signing event at the Barnes & Noble Bookstore in Springfield, Illinois on Saturday, May 19th from 1pm to 3pm.

I’ve attended several of these events and I can tell you that the staff there does an incredible job in securing authors across a wide range of genres. If you are going to be in the area why not stop by and show your support. I’ll have several of my books on hand, which can all be signed. I’d ask that you share this information with any family or friends that enjoy reading.

Looking forward to meeting everyone and don’t forget to sign-up for my free NEWSLETTER.

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The Derailment of the Trump Train?!?!

The immediate aftermath of President Donald Trump signing the now infamous Omnibus Spending Bill seemed to be a visceral one. In fact, there were widespread reports of weeping and gnashing of teeth among some of the more hardcore followers.  To be fair, at face value, the bill does seem to be a direct affront to many of the things that the President campaigned on, but does it herald the coming of Armageddon?  The answer is a resounding: No.

I’m really not sure why people seem to be losing their minds over this, but they need to pause and take a deep breath. The reality is that you’d have to have just awoken from a coma to be shocked by any of this. Perhaps it has been the continuous chanting of drain the swamp, which led many folks to view things with rose-colored glasses, but the reality is draining a swamp as big as Washington D.C. is not going to happen for a LONG time.

To put it in terms everyone can understand, it is like adding 30lbs over the winter and then thinking you can lose it all in a few days before the start of the Memorial Day weekend. It just ain’t happening, sport.

It’s also not Trump’s job to drain it, but we the voters. We elected them, now we have to eject them!

Actually, if you take a moment to really read and digest the bill, something which 99% of lawmakers didn’t do before they voted on it, you’d get an interesting look into how your representatives view you.

The Omnibus Bill isn’t a budget, but a well contrived spending spree that was most likely drafted and voted on quickly to prove a point. Call it: The Swamp Strikes Back. Folks seem to forget that Congress was around long before Trump and will be there long after he is gone. The swamp didn’t form overnight and if you think they are just going to just roll onto their backs, and be submissive, you’re insane. Trump has been hammering them at every turn and they just did a push-back, showing him they aren’t quite as dysfunctional as many believe them to be.

The reality is that they KNOW what they are doing. The T.V. theatrics are just that, well-rehearsed theatrics. It is a spectacle, played by political parties, to appeal to their individual bases.  Republicans blame democrats, who in turn blame republicans, nothing gets done and they all get rich without having to actually accomplish anything.  Trump threatens that status quo and they are doing their best to push back.

Two years ago this month I wrote a post called The Curious Case of Donald Trump that questioned whether he was what we needed. Two years later I can say that I believe he is.

Congress, as a whole, believes they just played him, but I believe they actually played right into his hand. It would have been political suicide for a republican to come out and say that they were against funding the military. Likewise, democrats needed a win and they got it with Planned Parenthood. Most question why they didn’t address DACA, but to be completely honest that is an emotional issue and isn’t really a make-or-break issue for them. In fact, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer actually commented that:

At the end of the day, as the minority party, we feel good about being able to succeed in so many ways. We don’t have the House, we don’t have the Senate, we don’t have the presidency, but we produced a darn good bill for the priorities we have believed in.” 

Think about it for a moment: “…..the priorities we have believed in.”

Translation: DACA folks, you’re not our priority right now.

Remember, if you actually solve a problem then you are no longer able to campaign on it.

I believe majority leader’s Ryan and McConnell overplayed their hand and will come out of this much weaker. Trump campaigned on rebuilding the military, and he got the money for that. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see him pull a rabbit out of the hat, in terms of funding other projects, because the devil is always in the details. Republicans on the other hand excoriated the left for reckless spending, but did just that in this bill and they even managed to get democrats to praise it.

Personally, I think we need to hold a Roll Call of our elected reps and ask three fundamental questions:

1.       Did you draft any of the provisions in the bill and if you did which ones?

2.       Did you read the 2,232 page bill?

3.       If you didn’t, why did you vote the way you did?

In the end, I think many will look back at this bill as potentially a new Ides of March moment leading to the downfall of some in Congress.  

Booksigning - Barnes & Noble Springfield, Il 05/19/18

Hey folks, the kind folks over at the Barnes & Noble Bookstore in Springfield, Illinois have invited me back for their Spring book signing event. It will be held on Saturday, May 19th, 2018, and and I will be there from 1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.

If you are going to be in the area, why not stop by @BNSSpringfieldIL and say hello. This is a great opportunity to show support for your local authors. Also, if you know of any avid readers, especially in the mystery genre, please share this post.

Thanks for your continued support.