Sunday, January 10, 2021

Finding Tulsa: two more reviews. 'E meglio tarde que mai.'


Considering the current state of things, I should be amazed anyone's buying or reviewing my books. But three months after being published, two more reviews of my seventh novel Finding Tulsa popped up. To translate the Italian phrase in this post's title, "Better late than never."

“It’s not easy writing a novel in the first person and relying on the sole perspective of your narrator, but Jim Provenzano pulls it off beautifully in Finding Tulsa. He brings us the remarkable voice and life experience of Stan Grozniak, a struggling Hollywood director and a nuanced gay man in a town where so many live on the surface of things...Finding Tulsa is both a unique and satisfying read that gives much perspective on the AIDS pandemic and living through it as a modern gay man.”

     – Art & Understanding

Also this:

Written as an autobiography, this entertaining work of fiction tells the story of Stan, a gay film director making a film about his past. Cast in the movie is Lance, a boyhood crush who Stan reconnects with in Hollywood. Finding Tulsa is an intense story, yet it’s an easy read due to the author’s vivid writing.  Echo Magazine

​And here are the other two published reviews.

Finding Tulsa is more than just the pseudo-memoir of a Hollywood hotshot and his sexual escapades (however exciting they are to read about — and in lurid, delicious detail), but also an unexpected, endearing love story. ... Whether its a small town production of Gypsy or a porno movie set in the desert, Stan's limitless passion for creativity and the artistic process remains intact, and guides him throughout.Edge Media Network

Finding Tulsa is a smashing exploration of what it would be like to be a gay film director of some renown living his best life. Mostly, I loved how recognizably messy Stan is, yet still makes his life work—which, for Stan, includes finding love with his unrequited high school crush and making a living through film; an excellent read for anyone who is interested in complex, first-person narratives.  – Joyfully Jay

Scant few for what should have been noticed by the many publications that were sent review copies.

Anyway, enjoy the fun trailer below, and listen & watch my Finding Tulsa playlist, as well as recent online readings and author chats, and my other books' related music playlists on my YouTube channel.

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Epiphanies and Epigrams; when you're too distracted to promote your own book, don't be surprised if no one buys it.


I understand, dear reader, fan or accidental visitor to my blog who was actually looking for celebrity nude photos; you haven't had time to read my seventh novel, Finding Tulsa, because it's been such a crazy time, and by 'crazy' I don't mean to disparage those struggling with mental health issues by reducing it to a Kathy comic ("Bleah!"), but actually, seriously insane times, what with a hundred-plus seditious GOP politicians still madly clinging to the baloney conspiracy of election fraud as they prop up their completely deranged outgoing president (and plan a heinous 'revolt' on Jan. 6, Epiphany Day, if you're Catholic), to the screeching store-invading anti-mask MAGAts threatening the lives of cashiers and barristas, to the billionaires hoarding their profits during a global plague as millions of vaccines lay dormant in freezers and COVID-19 victims' corpses lay stacked in bags inside refrigerator trucks.

So, yeah; buy my books, right? 

Or listen to my audiobooks; kind of a tough sell right now (I've actually tried to give away free copies, to little interest), which makes no sense to me, because you don't event have to touch a book if you're virus-wary.

But why not self-promote? Other books are being promoted, and have been, right through the pandemic and elections, the holidays ("The holidays; bleah" insert another Kathy comic), but for the most part, I've felt like this is all a case of bad timing; my best, most mature novel, published by a respected small press, has been largely ignored (again), while most media continues to lap up praise for corporate-published books, which I know because, as an arts editor, I know how persistent the well-paid publicists for conglomo publishers can be. 

Sydney Gay Games 2002. photo: Jim Provenzano

But except for said day-job's duties, and jotting down events in a journal (the 202o edition just PDFed, saved and archived), including dreams, like last night's which involved a dream variation of a real event, frolicking in an Olympic pool facility in Sydney, Australia with a dozen gay water polo players -yes, that happened, why don't I write a story about that? Wait, I did, in 2002, but you don't remember), I have not been promoting my book!

Having grown tired to #writerslist threads on Twitter, because having more followers doesn't do anything if they won't read your books, despite thee fact that book sales are very much a popularity contest. Gaining followers on Twitter doesn't amount to a hill of beans if the five of them who followed you on Monday unfollow you on Tuesday, or whenever you post something slightly political (gasp!) or too gay (double-gasp!). And what's with all the Amazon links? You do know they've made 2.6 billion during the pandemic as independent bookstores cling to life? This is why I prefer that you buy from indies via Bookshop.org, and then use the corporate sites to share reviews.

But no, most authors blindly bow to Amazon, which mistreats their workers, and Facebook, which obscures your posts unless you pay to boost them, and yes, I'm on all the 'evil' social media sites even though it all has minimal effect on sales, because, well, you know, 'things are crazy.'

Which they are. I'd love to just go back to bed and dream of frisky water polo players, since I'm writing this early in the morning, but I've already slurped down a cup of leftover coffee, which still has a bit of a zing to it, as you can tell, and I might even bathe before noon and put on clothes, and perhaps even write something else, in spite of it all.

And if you want a few hours of joyful literary distraction, go for it.

Friday, November 13, 2020

Author talk: Jim Provenzano & Felice Picano, hosted by Bureau of General Services—Queer Division

 


Watch my Nov. 12 chat with author Felice Picano, hosted by Greg Newton at NYC's Bureau of General Services—Queer Division. 
 
We discussed our new novels about gay Hollywood: https://youtu.be/gdH4PMl1knw
 
 
 
 
 
 

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Felice Picano & Jim Provenzano talk Gay Hollywood, hosted online by Bureau of General Services-Queer Division Nov. 12


These days, it's difficult to plan in advance. Will your favorite restaurant re-open? What are the revised hours of your local bookstore? Will November 3 welcome a days-long Biden/Harris Happy Dance, or a rightwing hellscape of violence? Who can say? fortunately, it helps to stay hopeful, make plans, like the November 12 online chat I scheduled with best-selling author Felice Picano, hosted by the Bureau of General Services-Queer Division in New York City (3pm PST, 6pm EST).

On my last two trips to New York (for Lambda Literary Awards), I tried to schedule a reading, but it didn't happen. While I plan a book's publication date months in advance, like many independent authors who self-publish or work with small presses, virtually knocking on a bookstore or community center's doors doesn't always get a good response, or any reply. 

So, I'm super-happy to connect with Felice and BGSQD for this event. Here is more info:

Best-selling author Felice Picano and Lambda Literary Award-winning author Jim Provenzano will discuss gay writers, actors and directors in Hollywood framed through their two novels, Picano’s Justify My Sins: A Hollywood Novel in Three Acts (Beautiful Dreamer Press, 2019) and Provenzano’s Finding Tulsa (Palm Drive Publishing, 2020).

With two similar yet unique perspectives on the filmmaking industry told in gay fiction, the two authors will share the inspiration for their new and recent novels. Both fully explore the behind-the-scenes process of film industry success –and failure– via two very different narrators.

Along with his prolific authorship, Picano has given PowerPoint lectures about historic LGBT figures in Hollywood more than a dozen times at colleges, historical societies, religious groups, and major libraries across the U.S. and also in Canada.

In addition to being an author, Provenzano has been a photographer and journalist in LGBT media for three decades. His film experience includes production work on short films and numerous music videos in the 1980s. He also wrote and directed several plays and choreographed dozens of dance and multimedia works.

This is a free event, but donations of any amount to support the Bureau’s work are very much appreciated! You can make a donation when you register for the event. Thank you for your support!

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Sinking the Pirates, Part 2: the Audiobook Edition

This is how I single-handedly shut down two thieving audiobook pirates on YouTube. Yes, thousands of illegally shared audiobooks are still on YouTube, converted to mp4s. If you're a fan of stolen property, piss off. If, however, you are an author, narrator, or a fan who respects artists, read on.

I've written about piracy before, of ebooks, back in 2013, after my fourth novel, Every Time I Think of You, had received a good amount of sales and publicity. It was also the time when I converted all four of my books published at the time, to ebooks for sale on various websites.

But I hadn't known, or forgotten, that hundreds, if not thousands, of audiobooks, converted to 'videos' with just the cover as a visual, are all over YouTube.

While looking up any posts about my seventh novel, Finding Tulsa, I checked for any mentions of the audiobook adaptations of Every Time I Think of You and its sequel, Message of Love, which I coproduced with talented voiceover actor Michael Wetherbee. Co-producing means we split the profits.

Imagine my surprise when I found a 'video' of Every Time... on YouTube! Wow, thanks. No, wait, it's not a review, but the complete seven-hour audiobook converted into a movie! WTF?


After saving link, making screencaps, and clearing the smoke blowing out of my ears, I reported it to YouTube. After only a few hours, it had been deleted. Then I found another copy on a different account with about 1500 other M/M (code word for 'gay' in the romance book world. Don't get started on that again). I reported that one, too, and noticed several others in the pirate's playlist/uploads had also been deleted. So at least a few other authors are aware of this problem.

Then I thought to contact a few other authors, but the list was too long. I posted a short account of the situation on a private writers' support Facebook group; no replies. Fine. You don't care, but I do.

So I went deep. I found contact emails for Amazon, Audible, ACX (the Audible program for creating audiobooks) and YouTube. Amazon's legal department replied within an hour. YouTube's autoreply was that they could only delete specific copyright claims from individuals.


Anyway, someone took this seriously, and the two YouTube accounts that had uploaded my audiobooks were completely deleted.

Gone. Wiped. Done. Gurl, bye.

In the words of Joan Crawford, "Don't fuck with me, fellas. This isn't my first time at the rodeo."

Get my money back
So, why did I go to all this trouble? Because I spent years writing these books, and worked for months with my narrators to complete these projects. And in the two weeks the pirated version of Every Time... was on YouTube, I noticed a sharp drop in sales of that title.


Further, if you count the 450 (one YouTube account) and 900 views on another, add about $5 to each view (our split royalty), that's $6,750. That is how much potential income we may have lost because of the scum that uploaded my one audiobook. 

Consider the multiple other authors, most of whom sell ten times more than mine, and it could be in the hundred-thousands. While it's impossible to track down the actual users, suing the creeps is still a hope.

The inane argument for condoning piracy is that it's 'good publicity,' it's 'good exposure.' That's baloney. I do marketing, I'm quite 'exposed,' literary-ily speaking (not in a Chris Evans way!).

For Finding Tulsa, I got a discount entry to the pricey NetGalley, where readers can get free copies of ebook editions, in exchange for reviews on GoodReads and/or Amazon.com. I also took up a request from Erie Gay News to give away audiobook access to my paired romance novels, and ebooks of Finding Tulsa.

The result was underwhelming in terms of reviews. Not only did I not get a single Thank You email from the winners, but perhaps two reviews resulted from the contest so far. The NetGalley deal got me six reviews so far.

This is all part of experiments I toy with for every book I publish, by myself or with small presses. In times like these, it's nearly impossible to get press, and being a member of the press, I know. At my job as an arts editor, I get more press release emails than ever before, with artists and producers in all genres desperate for attention. Some of them are offering free shows, readings and talks online. Others charge admission, an option they should have.


Writers who are indifferent to loss of sales from piracy must not be like most artists these days, who are unemployed or underemployed. 

But even if an author has, perhaps, a partner to support them, or they're so darn successful they don't care about losing a few hundred or a few thousand dollars a year from piracy, they should show support for fellow authors and narrators by sending complaints to the corporations, who sometimes respond and act swiftly.

So, here's the deal. Buy the damn audiobooks. Buy the books in whichever format you prefer. Buy them through Bookshop.org, and then post your reviews on (evil) Amazon, Goodreads and Barnes & Noble.

If you're a fan, but money is tight, ask for promo codes for any or each of my three audiobooks and I'll send them to you. In exchange, please post a review on Audible and/or Amazon.com. That's only fair.