Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Hottest Promo/Marketing Tips I Know (Part 1)

You’ve  probably heard of some of these. Some are obvious. Others might be hidden gems, ready for your experimentation.

I'm hooked up with some best-selling authors and they're giving up some tips and strategies. One, who is selling part of a dark fantasy series right now hit five top-ten spots on Amazon through Amazon's Daily Deal campaign that went on for a couple days (it's still bearing fruit after a month). His four e-books, which are part of a six-book series, were reduced from $4.95 and up to .99 and $1.99 as an intro special. To get a book on Amazon's Daily Deal roster, a publisher has to continually request it from Amazon and push, push, push. It's arduous, but the rewards are some of the largest instant sales, and continued residual sales. It’s resulted in hundreds and hundreds of both paperback and e-book sales.

Book of the Month pulls in great sales too, but I think that Amazon picks those spots. Not sure of the source that determines it. If you’re lucky enough to get on it, you’re a star and Amazon customers will flock to that special listing page.  

For publisher acquisitions of new authors and books, announcing it on Publisher's Market Place reaches a huge audience. Ask your publisher if they list with PM. Encourage participation. Publishers would do well to join up to this service because it is an industry barometer on all that is happening and will happen in the publishing industry. The huge book retailers, wholesalers and libraries watch this source with hawk eyes. So does the film industry. Intrigued? Join up for the free edition of PM. It will keep you abreast of the most recent news.  

Surprising tip: Authors should visit  YouTube and look up their favorite videos that cover their genre (fantasy, mystery, YA, SF etc), genre readers, celebrity genre interviews, genre trailers, genre best-sellers, genre trends (next big thing), or any instructional writing sites and other related topics. Now, here's the thing, authors should comment intelligently on all videos, coming from a fan perspective, but most importantly as an expert in their writing field. With EVERY comment, they can drop down a space and manually include their name and title of book. For instance:

Comment: (A couple of great paragraphs)

Chris Stevenson--Author--The Girl They Sold to the Moon

I wouldn't put in any links—it could be perceived as spamming. I haven’t had any problems with this from the site masters. The results = curious and admiring contributors will Google your name or title. I've sold this way--it's just another form of exposure you might be overlooking. 

And, pardon me for saying this, but I slammed Twilight and 50 Shades on some huge video channels and drew some flak. I also drew tons of +Points and support. I wrote from a moralistic and professional literary stance and let 'em have it. My FB account got hacked the next day, probably by a rabid fan.. But my comments were apparently so well taken with endearment that some defenders went and pre-ordered my book. Shocker. Controversy, good or bad, sells! It was an experiment as well as a mission. I don't recommend you ever trash somebody or their work. But never hesitate to stand up against the multitudes when you believe your cause is just. Spar; don't insult or humiliate like I did. Perry every negative barb directed at you with sound logic, righteous intent and irrefutable evidence. The detractors will grow weak in the knees and fade away. 

seems to rank the highest for book promo/sales response. You write a teaser (blurb) or mystery sentence (question) tied to your book, plus a link. That’s the subtle way and works best. It’s a curiosity driver. You know how to hook, don'tcha?  It departs from “BUY MY BOOK ‘CAUSE IT’S AWESEOM”, which is blatant and tiresome. Also, spammy.

For any authors who intend to invest in ads, BookBub looks like the popular  leader for turn-around investment and reader audience. Great sales results but the ad can be a little expensive. Return on investments (says the majority) are positive for almost all participants. It requires approval to enlist your book and there is a waiting list due to its popularity.  

A $75.00 ad on the KBoards will get you into the (general) 5,000 to 8,000 rank area, but you’ll have to keep that momentum by using your social media campaign (all your sources) really hard and often. The ad will give you a nice shove, and it's certainly dependent upon circumstances such as genre, cover art appeal and review numbers. Notice I didn’t say review comments like those pesky 1 and 2s. Most times those are crap and you can always tell if the contributor is making a dirty little drive-by. Don’t pay attention to them, anyway. It’s a road to madness when you fret over ANY comments.

Sales Rank 1: 3,000 to 5,000 sales per day. Please Note: On Launch Days this can be a LOT more.
Sales Rank 5: 2,000 to 3,000 sales per day.
Sales Rank 10: 1,500 to 2,500 sales per day.
Sales Rank 25: 1,000 to 2,000 sales per day.
Sales Rank 50: 800 to 1,000 sales per day.
Sales Rank 100: 700 to 800 sales per day.
Sales Rank 150: 400 to 500 sales per day.
Sales Rank 200: 300 to 400 sales per day.
Sales Rank 500: 100 to 150 sales per day.
Sales Rank 1,000 – 50 to 100 sales per day.
Sales Rank 5,000 – 25 to 50 sales per day.
If you have better figures or better estimates – please let me know. This sampling was pulled from an industry professional’s blog post.

Another shocker: Watpad and Booksie have produced some very rich and best-selling authors. And quite a few midlist hotshots. By publishing first chapters of any of your books on these sites, you will gain members and readers. The more books or short stories you list will attract more and more fans. Once you publish there, announce all new material to the database membership. It’s better to break it up and publish periodically rather than dump your entire book/story inventory.  You want to draw and build a following; not choke them out and let them vanish. Any of your awards should be mentioned somewhere in the text block. IF IT'S A PUBLISHED PIECE--Interested Watpad and Booksie participants must check first with their publisher for the okay so you don't trample on reprint rights. Generally, 10% of a book's content is justifiably permitted. This might allow two or three small separate chapters in sequence. Any and all non-published material is allowed, like published interviews, book reviews, articles and book release stories. Short stories seem to pull in the highest reader hits—but they must be un-published or returned rights material. Ask your publisher's policy on this. They might let a tie-in short story to your novel go up in it's entirety.

Of course, joining every free display site and writing group in the world will get your name and book out there too. I know, it’s a hassle and a time sink. Most of the display (YADS) are a waste of time. Problem is, you don't really know which ones unless you research. The popular writing sites are much more worth the time and investment. Contributing to each and every site is the key to illuminating and widening your brand. It only requires one day (or even hours) out of the week to make a full promotion and marketing push to update all of them. Stay current; stay vigilant and authoritative on all of them. I belong to 45 writing/reading--related sites.

For the sake of all that is holy and decent, join Stage 32. This is where all the world's B-list producers, directors, screenwriters, actors, talent and film scouts congregate. There is a BOOKS AND PUBLISHING department for all non-fiction and fiction authors. Get in there. You may be offered film options and screenplay novelizations by foreign, domestic or local professionals, like I have. You and other writers can have your own mash-up there and create your own group topics. Pop into the Producers, Directors and Screewriting threads and comment frequently—those individuals wield  decision powers. List any awards you may have garnered in your signature or profile. Writers will need to emphasize and slant the "imagery" and unique "scenes" inherent in their books. Remember, this is a visual media industry. 

You can't break down the doors of Hollywood at any time and snag the attention of a director or producer. They use heavy screening tactics to keep you out.  At Stage 32, you can slip through the door crack easily.

On a side note of the film industry:  All authors who have agents should ask them if they wouldn't mind pitching a specific director or producer. This abides by the film industry policy and is the proper way to approach the Big Film and TV Gods. I did this and got my book Dinothon read by the Cohen Brothers (producers) and the director John Badham. You must align your book's genre and style with what these film moguls have produced currently and in the past. You wouldn't submit a romance to James Cameron or a contemporary YA to John Carpenter or Wes Craven. Go for the most popular B-list producers and directors for a fast and likely response. Most A-listers, who are understandably absent from Stage 32, have in-house staff and contractors (including writers) who they assign projects to, which makes contact with them impregnable.

BTW: If  any of you have any surefire tips or ploys that have paid off big time...baste me; I'm a roast. We'll never nail this puppy, but our combined experience and data can come damn close to catching lightning in a bottle.

Happy Hunting--Get out there and sell some books!


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A Bright Light In China—Xiaoduo Media

One of our newer paying markets in our AbsoluteWrite forum, Xiaoduo Media, is open for submissions for capable freelance writers who wouldn’t mind writing for a worthy cause, in addition to some lucrative compensation. Xiaoduo Media is five years-old now. Conny, the main contact liaison and editor can explain it better than I can. 

Conny: Xiaoduo Median, a publisher based in both New York and Beijing is looking for children’s authors. We currently publish three monthly magazines and an assortment of book series for ages 6 to 14. The literary magazine “Red Squirrel” publishes high quality licensed work from world famous authors and original stories, poems, articles from all over the world; the science magazine “Ask You Ask Me” publishes feature articles, science fiction, and scientific activities.

Our mission is to make available world-class, quality content to children in China to foster a love of learning, develop critical thinking skills and mold global citizens.

We welcome writers, artists, illustrators and the people who are interested in writing for children to submit your articles or works.

If your work meets our requirements, we will be happy to publish it along with your brief profile and photos. Please note that not all submissions will be published; however, we urge you to submit your work again in the future.

For the magazine "Red Squirrel": 

Categories: realistic contemporary fiction, historical fiction, humor, mysteries, fantasy, science fiction, folk tales, fairy tales, legends and myths. 

Length: 500 to 6,000 words 

An exact word count should be noted on each manuscript submitted. Word count includes every word, but does not include the title of the manuscript or the author's name.

Rates: up to 15¢ per word (price differs in length, type of rights, etc.)

We also buy previously published stories for which the authors own the rights.

For the magazine "Ask You Ask Me":

We are interested in articles rich in scientific accuracy and lively approaches to the subject at hand. The inclusion of primary research (interviews with scientists focusing on current research) is of primary interest to the magazine.

Feature Articles: Up to 1500 words

Includes: in-depth nonfiction articles. (An interactive approach is a definite plus!) Q & A interviews, plays, and biographies are of interest as well 

Fiction: Up to 1,500 words

Includes: science-related stories, science fiction on a believable scientific basis, relating to the theme. 

Rates: up to 250 USD per article (We purchase all rights to material)

Activities: Up to 750 words

Includes: critical thinking activities, experiments, models, science fair projects, astrophotography projects, and any other science projects that can either be done by children alone, with adult supervision or in a classroom setting. Query should be accompanied by sketches and description of how activity relates to theme.

The payment is upon publication at latest within 6 months, via PayPal. We purchase all rights, unless prior negotiations and special circumstances are requested.

Queries and questions should be directed to Conny, editor at Xiaoduo Media. Contact link is at the bottom or our submission. Go there and scroll down:

Chris:  That about sums it up. Great pay—magazine placement with title credit. Target demographic: young readers, 6 to 14 years-old. These articles and stories will be translated primarily into Chinese for the foreign market. Although there may be other foreign translations in the works as we speak. Participating authors are reporting very good editing skills and structural revision comments, along with superb and timely payment (upon publication). All correspondence comes with patient guidance. I’ve been there, and I must say that it took me three full-length science articles to adapt to the specific style they’re after. That would tabulate to about nine or 10 revisions. It wasn’t that hard; I was just dense and used to writing science material for the adult, academic crowd. If you’ve written and/or published Young Reader or Middle Grade, you’ll feel right at home here. 

In a nutshell, fiction and non-fiction are best served in a story format.


Fiction will have a beginning, middle and end, with an important science topic used as a backdrop to teach, reveal and entertain in equal measures. Xiaoduo Media favors character-driven all the way. Always. It’s always about people, then the discovery woven into a tight plot. Don’t forget that. And make it accessible to the young reader—keep the highbrow words, theories and author intrusion at arm’s length. Humor and irony is fine, but there is an emphasis on the struggle, with roadblocks and inner turmoil aplenty. People suffer turmoil and conflict. Machines don’t. And space is a boring unless people populate it.

Now, fantasy doesn’t really have the science core that science fiction has, but it is there if you stop and think about it (especially in urban fantasy or steampunk). Time machines, invisibility, sword and scocery-metalergy, historic or cultural folklore, alchemy, ghost detection, DNA mutations, herbs and spell-casting, dimensional portals and other fringe science areas. Horror is ripe for science slants—think of “The Happening”, “The Fly” or any of Stephen King’s books that used science in piggyback form. If the reader can learn something while being entertained, all the better.


Non-fiction articles and features: Pay attention to the assignment’s list. Once you get a roster of assignments to pick from, organize the suggested topics into cohesive order; sub-title them and draft a quick but thorough outline of each topic and what it will cover. Send the outline in for approval first. It might come back with some notes. Again, it’s all about people; the scientists, astronomers and physicists. Tell their story about how they dreamed, worked and conceived of the invention, theory, adventure or discovery. Keep it light, use some interactive “audience speak.” Show by example. Be creative and exciting when striving toward the reveal. In short, these articles are fictionalized non-fiction, straight through.

These science articles will be true life stories and experiences, with feeling, failure and eventually victory. A few opening sentences about the person’s origin, education and eventual participation in the project is fine. They don’t need E = Mc2 as much as they need Albert fooling around with some equations and breaking chalk, then finding out the theory, but in a simplified form so a kid could understand it. Try and keep it under 1,500 words—lean and trimmed. Any article that screams for a picture or small graph, find a good one and then include the link to it in your article submission (try for public domain free-stock stuff). For instance, my next assignment involves “Cosmic Microwave Background” and the big bang noise. So I’ll be hunting down a photo of the old horn receiver that was first used.

Now, I don’t know if I’ve described the style, tone, pace and voice, but that’s what I’ve learned. You will find Conny insufferably understanding and attentive to your questions. Email me if you have any structural questions or need a Beta read. I’ll do my best.

I asked Conny a few questions and the answers were kindly submitted:

Chris: Conny, China is fast becoming a recognized industrial nation with the development in new and advanced technologies. Did Xiaoduo Media have this fact in mind when it decided to reach out to the younger reading public and offer informative and entertaining science stories and articles?

Chris: Conny, Has the youth in China become more involved and interested in science vocations in the last decade? How so, and do you expect to make a future impact on them, if you haven't already?

Conny: I will try to answer your first two questions together.

In the science area, China is not in any position as a leader, maybe in some advanced research areas which are very few, considering its capacities and population. For many generations, science was not considered an important subject in school.

China has just started to recruit and train elementary teachers in science in the recent years. Children have more imported science books to read now but the reach for the critical mass is far less than what it should be. Xiaoduo wants to timely introduce what the world scientists are doing and how developed science and technology has been and will be so as to open eyes for the young readers. We hope that some of our readers, when they grow up, can participate in science and technology developments with their global peers and at least appreciate the beauty and magic of science in life.

Chris: Where can we find Xiaoduo media publications? I expect that English speaking countries will be able to locate them and perhaps translate the stories into readable formats?

Conny: We will have electronic copies of our publications available both in English and Chinese this year.

Thank you so much! Things look promising and wonderful at the moment for the young readers. I’m sure the contributions you, your staff and writers impart will have a lasting and positive effect on China and the global community at large.

I just wanted to note that The Girl They Sold to the Moon is now available on pre-order on Amazon. The paperback price is especially affordable at $11.33, undoubtedly one of the lowest out there. You can find it here:



Or Intrigue Publishing:  Sandra Bowman at:
Intrigue is proud to announce our latest author acquisition; Chris Stevenson, author of the YA Dystopian and Science Fiction novel The Girl They Sold to the Moon. Eighteen-year-old Tilly Breedlove’s father has pawned her to a ruthless company called Family Trade and Loan, who sells her into a form of modern day slavery on Luna—the Tranquility Harbor Mining Company, 240,000 miles from home. Forced to be an exotic dancer, she performs risqué shows for the filthy and filthy rich ore miners--a far cry from her classical and modern dance training. If she isn't resisting obscene advances from bearded “Prairie Dogs”, she's fending off jealous head-liner acts who view her as a threat to their status—and when those jealous showgirls say “break a leg”, they aim to cause it. The only reprieve she finds in this shop of horrors is a few close ward friends, a sympathetic dance coach/choreographer, and Buddy Gunner Bell, who just might become the love of her life. It's just enough to stem her psychological meltdown. Find out what happens to Tilly and her friends in this fast-paced, fun ride.
Chris Stevenson , originally born and raised on the beaches of southern California, moved to Sylvania, Alabama in 2009 and settled in with his twin sister. His occupations have included newspaper reporter, front-line mechanic and federal police officer. He has been writing off and on for 36 years, having officially published books beginning in 1988.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

The Book Review Push

Well, it's that time when the cover reveal has been announced along with the production of the paper and e-book ARC (advance reader's copy), otherwise known as the galley proof. The ARC is a preview copy by which book reviewers can read and review your novel or non-fiction book. Ideally speaking, ARCs should come out in advance of the final version that is commercially ready for sale. Anywhere from two to three months in advance is plenty of time to get solicitations from reviewers and for them to read and give you a write-up. In my case, I'm about four to five months early, since my target publication date is going to be right around July 2 of this year. That's plenty of time for reviewers to get to your book, and with any luck, they'll have something ready early on, during the release or just after. It's not rocket science but it's difficult to get everyone on the same page and get the timing just right.  A way-too-early review might make an impact, but if the book is not set up for pre-order or publication, readers will forget the magic and move on to another book that is available.

Your publisher will naturally send out a dozen or so review copies in advance and likely include the publication date so the reviewer can schedule their review close to release. Let's hope. Mine did. They're on the ball in that respect. It doesn't always work that way, but most review sites try to accommodate any time constraints and fall within a prescribed timeline. In fact, some reviewers will request a certain amount of time before release--like two weeks to a month or so. Be sure you're ready.

What's your job as the author? Well you're going to go after reviews too, on your end. Time it with your publisher. Who are you going to go after? I could give you a list but the easiest method and source is for you to Google some common terms and compile your own list. Use search terms like "Book Review Bloggers, "Book Review Sites", "Book Review Listings", "Magazine Book Review Sources", "Top Ten Book Review Sites","Top 100 Book Review Sites.", and "Newspaper Book Reviewers." To narrow it down, include your category and genre if you want to get specific. Mine happens to be in the YA category and the main genre is science fiction. The sub-genre is dystopian, but you need not limit yourself by a sub-genre. Compile your list and bookmark them in your favorites. 

Then comes the investigation and work. And getting a review is as difficult as petting a rabid dog and coming away from it without a scratch. Book reviewers are overworked and dropping like flies. Newspapers and magazines have cut book review sections out of their pages entirely. The self-publishing revolution is one of the many reasons for this--these people who read for a living or hobby are inundated to the point where they select only prime material that really intrigues and piques their interest. They might get dozens or hundreds of reviews in a week, or even a day with the most popular review sites. Locus, Library Journal, The New York Times Book Review, Kirkus, Midwest Book Review and other luminaries can be a difficult pinch for a small press writer who has a debut novel. Hint: if you have received any type of review in the past that helped boost sales, contact them again and remind them that you are in their archives and that you have a new title coming out.

Who is really legit? You all know the big review sources are legit but highly selective. That means you'll be limited to the very large, medium and small blog book reviewers. Here's where it gets tricky--you'll have to read every blog review site's "review policy" and this is time consuming. It's torture, but necessary because their limitations and guidelines will be specific and not subject to negotiation. Some will stipulate soft copy or e-books, and then specify Mobi, PDF, Sony or Kindle for the e-book formats. They will require certain tags in the email subject line, like title, author's name and genre. They might ask for specific keywords like "Book Submission" or "Cover Reveal and ARC" or "For Immediate Release." Whatever you do, get it right and tight because if you don't, they'll click the delete button faster than an Alabama tick draws blood on a dog.

Check the reviewer's last blog review. If it isn't current, at least two or three weeks, you might be wasting your time. If the blog hasn't been updated for six months or a year or two, you're in trouble. You've just found an inactive site. How many page views and members do they have?  Anything over 150 members is a fairly safe bet--if it's in the 1,000s, you've stumbled upon a site that has huge reader traffic. 

Do they list their reviews simultaneously on Twitter, their blog, Facebook, Smashwords and other sites? That is what you want. One blog review that gets lost in the archives won't help you much. Make sure they link to all possible book reading sites, including book clubs and genre sites, which is the Midas Touch for a blog book reviewer. 

So what do you say in your solicitation? You're going to ask first--you're NOT going to send a cold copy in either format and expect them to get right to it. Sometimes you'll have to fill out a form--do so and take your time. Get your information right. If you're in doubt about their credibility and traffic size, put them on the back-burner and try someone else. Here's a real simple example of my book review solicitation: 

I found a listing for you on the Internet and decided to try a contact. I've authored a YA dystopian novel which has attracted some attention.  My publisher has ARC copies for review in their inventory. I'd be delighted to send you one if you are interested. I'm also available for interviews.  I do thank you for your time and consideration


Chris Stevenson


Or Intrigue Publishing:  Sandra Bowman at:  (publicity manager's email address)

Include your blurb/synopsis and a small bio underneath this. You can include your phone number if you wish (or if its requested in the policy), if privacy is not that much of a concern. 

How many do you send out? Well, at the present time I've sent out about 70 to the major daily newspapers across the United States, and I add a few a week, time permitting. I'm waiting for the final commercial release to contact all the city and county newspaper that are local to me--this is because chances are you'll get more reviews and quicker from your demographic region--local girl/boy makes good stories. The locals will also be more inclined to give you a feature spread with a human interest interview. So you want to save those babies until the release or just after. 

I've got about a total of 170 announcements out there at the moment, and I've received about 12-14 requests. Do you see the odds already? Now, whenever I get a positive response, an eager reader/reviewer, I turn that information (copy of the letter) over to my publishers with all the pertinent data. That way the publisher decides if a copy is justified or not. Your publisher may pass on a few selections, but that's just business if they find the review sites are lacking. Another reason you hand the ball off to the publishers is so they can mail out paper copies and compile a list so they don't do any repeats. That list will also help you in the future with another book--the reviewer will probably remember you. Fondly.

What do you do when that review comes in and it gets listed for all eyes to see? Well, you announce and link it to all of your social media sites, and I mean, ALL of them. That will get others to preview your book. Hint: you can hold back on 50% of your reviews and make the grand announcement when your book hits the wood or virtual shelves. That way your splitting up your sales between the pre-order and final release copies. Let's just hope that most of your reviews coincide with the timing of the final version. That's when your Amazon, B&N, Smashwords and other vendor sales ranks start to soar. When you hit the top 10 or top 100 bestsellers rank on these retail sites, you can keep the momentum going by piling on more social media exposure and actually use the bragging rights. And yes, I mean dropping links to the review on all your social media sites, more than once if necessary but not hog-wild. This includes your writing groups, readers groups and display sites. 

Be sure to read all of the reviews you receive, good, bad or indifferent. Go right into the comments section and thank your review host and field any questions readers might have. From then on, realize that your book is like a baby that needs constant attention and feeding. Set aside enough time out of the week to spend at least two to fours of solid and worthwhile promotion. Whether you hire a publicity agency or spend money on banner ads, that's up to you. But keep that book in the public eye. If the sales spike drops after about the first one to three months, know that this is normal and that it means that all of your relatives, peers, coworkers, friends and family members have expended their dollars for a copy. It's now time to get the strangers on your train, and to do that, you've got to reach out. Never stop promoting any of your books--they feed off each other sales wise.

Good luck. I hope you end up rolling in dough. 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Cover Reveal--The Girl They Sold to the Moon


Or Intrigue Publishing:  Sandra Bowman at:

Intrigue is proud to announce our latest author acquisition; Chris Stevenson, author of the YA Dystopian and Science Fiction novel The Girl They Sold to the Moon. Eighteen-year-old Tilly Breedlove’s father has sold her into a form of modern day slavery on Luna—the Tranquility Harbor Mining Company, 240,000 miles from home. Forced to be an exotic dancer, she performs risqué shows for the filthy and filthy rich ore miners--a far cry from her classical and modern dance training. If she isn't resisting obscene advances from bearded “Prairie Dogs”, she's fending off jealous head-liner acts who view her as a threat to their status—and when those jealous showgirls say “break a leg”, they aim to cause it. The only reprieve she finds in this shop of horrors is a few close ward friends, a sympathetic dance coach/choreographer, and Buddy Gunner Bell, who just might become the love of her life. It's just enough to stem her psychological meltdown. Find out what happens to Tilly and her friends in this fast-paced, fun ride.

Chris Stevenson , originally born and raised on the beaches of southern California, moved to Sylvania, Alabama in 2009 and settled in with his twin sister. His occupations have included newspaper reporter, front-line mechanic and federal police officer. He has been writing off and on for 36 years, having officially published books beginning in 1988. Today he writes science fiction, fantasy, paranormal romance, young adult, adult thrillers and horror. He has a total of nine titles appearing on Amazon. He was a finalist in the L. Ron. Hubbard Writers of the Future contest, and just recently took first place grand prize in a YA novel writing contest for The Girl They Sold to the Moo. He writes the popular blog, Guerrilla Warfare for Writers (special weapons and tactics), hoping to inform and educate writers all over the world about the high points and pitfalls of publishing.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Next Big Thing

Boy, I'll tell ya. We have a thread entitled The Next Big Thing over at the AbsoluteWriter forum and it's a interesting foray into the crystal ball skill of predicting what the reading world will latch onto in 2014. We've run the gamut of everything to horror to New Adult. It is/was like predicting the genre of J.K. Rowling new book that came out a while ago. Everybody was taking a stab at and, of course, it ended up being a mystery. 

It's fascinating to note that the scuttlebutt from the agents and editors, from the micro-press on up to the NY monsters, is that paranormal romance, dystopian and apocalypse stories are so yesterday and off the target. There seems to have been glut for the past couple of years and the submission piles are still filled with the stuff. And to add insult to injury, the Young Adult spec market has completely drowned the editors and agent's desks with a tsunami that hasn't even crested yet. To break it down, YA dystopian books are so dead they're fossilized. That's what they're saying. I know we've all heard that there are cut-backs on vampire and werewolves, but we've been hearing this for a decade. There are hints that zombie novels and shorts just might get stepped on and ground out like bad cigarettes as well. 

Oh, yeah?

Sorry, I forgot the source, but it was featured in the Yahoo news wire and it was a review of the five most popular YA books. I think it was YA?! Or the books that everyone was reading right now. Here's the list:

Vampire Academy (Paranormal thriller)
Steeheart (SF superhero)
The Selection (Dystopian)
Divergent (Dystopian)
The Fault In Our Stars (okay, contemporary)

Then we've just had a big breakout deal for The Bone Season, and Witches is climbing the ranks. 

Don't forget the huge movie franchises like The Hunger Games and all of the dystopian, SF, apocalypse and paranormal/supernatural blockbusters that are slated for this year. Caveat: if it has a different slant or unique voice, then it's an exception (gawd, how many times have we heard this). Well, there is sure is a lot of exceptions going on, dontcha think?

So, are the agents and editors lying? I don't think so, not all all. I think the agents are just plain tired of reading the stuff and the decision-making power is out of the hands of the editors. As far as the big books go, I think the marketing departments are making the ultimate choices. They're staying with what's working. And these so-called "fallen out of favor" genres have never been stronger or pulling in more bucks and readership than ever before. Just when we hear that dystopian and paranormal is on the wane we witness an auction where five or six publishers are driving up the bid into the stratosphere. 

You know what's kept me from writing a new YA dystopian novel? All these half-assed, needless and insufferable rumors. I've been spooked for the past six months and haven't punched one plastic key to create any new fiction. I'll tell you what I'm going to do is to muff my ears and don the blinders. I think I'm going to write whatever the hell I want. Hell's sake, I've got a YA distopian coming out this year. Do I think that publisher was nuts? Hardly. I think they just might have a finger on the real pulse in the industry. This year is going to see another wave of everything that's supposed to be dead or dying. 

That's my prediction.

Monday, January 6, 2014

InGenre--Interview/book review of Planet Janitor

Couldn't resist this plug. Hope I don't bore you. I hate self-promo on a blog, but sometimes it helps out. Joe Konrath, I am not so there won't be dozens of book listings!

Strangely enough, this spotlight article is almost a year late! The owner/reviewer apologized for the tardiness of the article and review, mentioning unforeseen problems. Alas, it was a welcome New Years gift to my way of thinking since I'd completely forgotten about it. Oh, well, check it out if you'd like.
Real nice combo book review/interview at InGenre:

Space Faring Janitors Have All the Fun

Space Faring Janitors Have All the Fun

PJ Front_Cov
Captain Zachary Crowe and his crew deem themselves custodians of the stars. Their job: to clean up in the wake of natural disasters and human catastrophes on planets throughout the galaxy. Until now… Now they’ve been hired by Orion Industries to travel to a planet far, far away, in order to prepare it for human colonization. When they arrive, they discover a dangerous world. The climate is hostile, as is some of the wildlife. Meanwhile, the crew works to not only survive but to do the job they were hired to do while they wait for the first Orion ships to arrive.
Planet Janitor: Custodian of the Stars is a science fiction novel that includes humor, plenty of action, and a lot of heart. It also compares what a responsible colonizing species would do to that of a destructive conquering species. Someday soon, we will have the technology to travel to other planets. Before that day arrives, we should all begin asking some important questions: Can we colonize without disturbing the natural order of another evolving planet? How can we leave small footprints when we tread among the stars?
Author Chris Stevenson is here with us to answer some of those questions:
S. L. Wallace: Hello, and welcome to InGenre. Do you think humans will have answered some of these big questions before we are capable of traveling to and colonizing other planets?
Chris Stevenson: Thanks for having me! If NASA and the government don’t throw a blanket over our exploratory findings, we should get a pretty big reveal soon about life on other solar system bodies. The Disclosure Project is in full swing as we speak, headed by Dr. Steven Greer (check out YouTube). That’s deep planetary stuff, though. Our own planet and orbital satellite corridors are in need of some serious cleanup before we go gallivanting off into space. We have something on the order of 10,000 pieces of junk just outside our atmosphere that need to be rounded up and contained somehow. Otherwise, it’s a hazard to navigation, coming or going.
Wallace: You describe a lot of future technology in your novel. Did you have to do much research in order to prepare yourself for writing those descriptions? How did you make the technology believable?
Stevenson: By reading a lot of science fiction and spending hours and hours on YouTube videos, digesting science theories, systems, and basic physics. My space prep, flight, and propulsion system is within our technical grasp at the present, or very near future. The nuclear bang pod drive is doable—it’s been proposed to catch huge sails and power craft to the stars. I didn’t use the ion or warp drive for this book. Star Trek or Wars, this ain’t. It’s a gritty space adventure, so I went with what we now have in our tech manuals for relatively short hops, so to speak.
Wallace: If you could travel throughout the galaxy, would you? Why or why not? Where would you like to go? What would you most like to see?
Stevenson: I’d like to head out 39 light years from here via an anti-matter propulsion drive and check out the third, fourth, and fifth planets orbiting Zeta Reticuli 2. I have a message for the greys: Land on the White House lawn and stop mutilating our cattle. I’d go in a heartbeat, yes.
Wallace: Captain Zachary Crowe (Zaz) and his crew each have unique habits and characteristics. How did you come up with your characters, including their flaws and their strengths?
Stevenson: I thought of the most diverse characters I could think of, those who were the most unlikely planetary spacefarers, yet intelligent and competent in their own rights. The giant, the prostitute, the reckless munitions officer, a dumb robot, the cute scientist, the old and insufferable professors, the captain Boy Scout and the matronly navigation officer. Kind of a Journey to the Center of the Earth ensemble, if you remember Vern’s original version. I took some nasty hits for stereotyping, or going over the top. I dunno, they had to be different and recognizable. Diversity, that’s what I was after.
Wallace: You have written both non-fiction and fiction, including novels, short stories, and newspaper articles. Is there a specific genre or type of writing that you prefer over all others?
PJ short storyPJ short story 2
Stevenson: It would have to be fiction and I might say dystopian. However, I’ve had buckets of success with my three YA titles lately, especially the last two that have gone on to tiny bidding wars, grand prize wins, and film option negotiation. I do love my science, and I just finished a book for young readers, ages 5 to 9, about the wonders of the La Brea Tar pits.
Wallace: I wish you much success with all of your titles. Thank you so much for joining us here today.
Stevenson: My pleasure entirely and thank you whole-heartedly for the wonderful read, comments, editorial help, and the interview.
Contact Links for Readers:
Official Author Website
Blog (Guerrilla Warfare For Writers)
Planet Janitor Website with Artwork
The War Gate, a paranormal thriller on Amazon