Thursday, July 24, 2014

Shelf Space or why Books Fail

Books fail for the same reason they always have. NO ONE SEES THEM. Lets assume your book is good. Lets assume you have the reviews. Your book still fails. Now why is that? Once upon a time there were only the bookstores. The bookstores had shelf space. Limited shelf space. Your book came out and chances are it did not find space on these shelves. Or if your book ended up in the bookstore it was spine out in the stacks and only for a little while.

Bookselling then was based on the concept that someone walking by would see your book and buy it. But most people never saw your book. The book was buried under the Bestsellers and the publishers who paid for shelf space. Your book from the midsized or even large press never had a chance because they only pay for so many books to be there. Even the Independent bookstores have to be careful about their space and pick only the books that hit their radar.

So now lets fast forward to the cyber world. Your book is now in cyber space and the same problems apply. Book shelf space. Except now it is cyber shelves. And your book has to be seen. But now you have a chance. Now you can get it in front of people. You just have to promote it though the many promotion channels. And your book may not be seen by everyone but by working hard you can make sure it is seen by some. And this is better.

The author now has a choice. Work hard and get cyber space or let your book disappear. The choice is really now up to the writer.
The Pitcher

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Archiving Your LIife

Went down to the University the other day and dropped off ten computers and my son for a weekend at college. I got to stay in a dorm room and the Archives of the University added ten old computers to my earlier manuscripts. The Archivist looked at the coffee stained behemoths and shook his head. "What kind of operating system are these?" I told him they were Windows...maybe the first one.

And then I shipped off the son and walked around the University. Ok. Seven novels later and I am back where I started. So this is what I did after I graduated. I wrote novels that ended up back at the University in ancient computers. And what does it mean that there is up in the library a room with all my manuscripts and ten old computers that in theory will give up my efforts from the last fifteen years. And will give some scholar a glimpse of my life. I don't know.

I go to the English building and it is locked. Of course. Summer. Duh. I stare in the window and look for the guy who sat in those classes. So I just walk around campus aimlessly like that Undergraduate did so many years before. That night I go get a drink then come back to my dorm room. Laying in the bunk bed I can see the campus from my window and the library. In the other part of the dorm my son sleeps.

Everything is truly a circle.
The Pitcher

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Summer is Not Passing

But the corn is already high. I am way out in the country on my bike and a field just two weeks before was short nubby green rows has now become corn higher than my waist. And it gets me thinking. Is the summer really passing? No. The summer is not passing. Then why do I notice the light changing already? What is that weird cool snap at night.

Ok. Cool Summer. We are not having a hot one so far. This is all just after Fourth of July jitters. There is still baseball. There is still the pool. The kids are still home. Nothing has changed yet. Fall is not close. We are at mid summer and there are many days of biking left. Still there is that nagging feeling that something is slipping away.  And you want to grab it before the water slips through your fingers like those old stone fountains you used to drink from at the playgrounds.

So I ride on and it is deep summer again. The slowed time is there. Summer is not passing. Still...the corn is high.
The Pitcher on .99 Cent Kindle Download

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Getting Those Trade Reviews

Ok we are talking Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, Booklist, Library Journal. The Pitcher was covered by all four. And I am not talking about paying for any of them. I am talking about getting reviewed on the merit of your book. Which brings me to the first point. Write a good book. That is the best thing you can do to help yourself get these coveted trade reviews that sell to the publishing industry and the libraries. Now after you write the very best book you can write then here are some pointers.

Send your book in early. Say four or five months before your publication date. This is standard. Send an ARC if you have one but if all you have is the finished copy then the send that. And do not send it to a general mailbox send it to the editor who is reviewing your particular genre. Now I am really talking about fiction here since that is all I have written. Everyone of my five novels including the last book have been covered by the trades.

Which leads me to another truth. Once you get one of your books covered by the trades it is much easier to get your next novel covered. They know you do quality work and are much more willing to look at your next effort. You may have to send in several copies as they do tend to get lost and some gentle email follow up helps.

But I go back to my original point. All this is lost if you don't have the book. Write the very best book you can. The trades will follow.
The Pitcher


Monday, July 7, 2014

About Last Night

You know that old movie set in the mid eighties with Demi Moore and Rob Lowe based on Mamets play Sexual Perversity in Chicago that catalogued that amazing time after college in Chicago when all you had to do was go to work party and find the love of your life. Well I watched it again and like all movies from that era I was amazed at the great times it brought back. My wife and I both lived in Chicago during those years and were actually coming out of a bar across form Mothers on Rush Street when they filmed the New Years Even scene complete with  movie snow.

And a girl I went to high school with appeared in one of the final scenes as her only moment of contextual close to Rob and Demi and Jim Belushi she could touch them but then she fell into obscurity as did the movie after years passed. But there are movies that bring back a moment in time with the crystal clarity of a clock striking the hour and About Last Night does this very well. Yes it is a brat pack eighties movie but Mamets script anchors the movie and it has moments where it takes flight.

And if you were in Chicago during the eighties. And if you had just graduated from college. And if you lived in old brownstones and went to the bars on Rush Street and if you stayed out all night and walked in the surf of Lake Michigan as dawn broke then you watch this movie as if someone had filmed your life and you end up with a hell of a nostalgia hangover when it ends.

And you wonder for the millionth time...where did all that go? Demi dumped by Ashton. Rob busted for peeping. Still...there was a moment. Ah well...Boats against the current....


One Hundred and Fifty Million Hotdogs

One hundred and fifty million hotdogs were consumed over the Fourth of July. So what does this say about Americans? Be it Chicago Dogs or New York Dogs foot longs or wieners...we love our hotdogs. We are a fun loving nitrate eating people who really owe a debt to that German vendor who improvised one day at a baseball game when he ran out of bacon and started offering sausages wrapped in a bun. We don't really care that much about what is really in a hotdog after all that scare tactics of the hotdog haters of the world.

And while the World Cup played on we were busy slathering our 150 million hotdogs with tons of ketchup and mustard and relish and onions. And how many pickles did we consume? Lets give us one pickle for every two hotdogs and we are at seventy five million pickles. The cucumber farmers must love this holiday. And that also means we inhaled 150 million buns. And used 150 million napkins and you know we had to have something to drink.

So hundred million gallons of pop? Lets give a quarter of the dogs fries. 35 million fries and how many spuds does that convert get the picture. And the funny part is people all over the world love hotdogs too. They see it as the American food. So while the rest of the world was losing their mind over soccer we were clenching our nitrate tubes of animal parts and clogging our hearts and stirring up the toxins.

Ah...Happy Birthday America! And please pass the mustard.
The Pitcher

Saturday, July 5, 2014

The Real End to The Natural

Just finished The Natural again. And there was that ending again. The Bernard Malamud ending that is not like Hollywood. The exact opposite in fact. Roy Hobbs takes the payoff and misses the final pitch and strikes out. He does tell the judge and Memo and the bookie to go where the sun doesn't shine but he is a broken man in the end with no future...just another drifter in Depression era America.

And the book is different in that it is really a treatment of baseball during The Great Depression. The Natural with Robert Redford is a much more upbeat tale of a pitcher who gets knocked off by a woman who shoots him early in his career. Years later he comes up but he is much older with only a few good seasons in him.

But the real difference lies in the ending. In the novel the natural does not pull it out. He simply cant get his mojo back and when he strikes out he is accused of being in on the fix and there are people who want to ban him from baseball. But Roy Hobbs has banned himself as he becomes just another person in Depression era America.
The Pitcher

Books by William Hazelgrove