Thursday, April 4, 2013

Incremental, Incidental

Magnet SF
There are lots of ways to promote your books, and literacy in general. An author often has to do the bulk of promotion on his/her own. This is even when they have a deal with a major publisher. Sometimes, an event just happens without one's own doing.

This month, I'm honored to have Every Time I Think of You chosen as the book for Magnet's Book Club. 

Magnet is the San Francisco men's health center that does HIV and STD testing. They also host monthly art exhibits and readings, like Smack Dab, the (usually) monthly open mic event cohosted by author-colleagues Larry-bob Roberts and Kirk Read.

Basically, it's like any other book club, but with a focus on local authors. Sometimes, a book club will pick a novel by an author who isn't available, or alive.

The group will discuss the book on Tuesday, April 30, from 7:30pm to 8pm (4122 18th St.), after which I will be present to take in comments and critiques and discuss the themes and inspiration behind the book.

Here's the Facebook event page. If you're local, or visiting, please consider attending. A few other local authors may be in attendance.  You can purchase a copy at the Castro Books Inc. on Market Street.

Usually, Books Inc. does not carry books that are published via's CreateSpace. While it's disappointing, it's also understandable. Amazon poses a clear threat to independent bookstores, economically.

Just days ago, announced that it had purchased the website

As the article notes, "Many of the 16 million Goodreads users probably thought of different analogies than “joining the family.” How about “being swallowed by an anaconda after being squeezed to death”? Or my initial response on Twitter: “`Joins’ Ha. Ha. Good one. Like Poland `joined’ The Third Reich.”"

Here's a Washington Post blog that discusses how people decide to buy books. I sum? word of mouth; other readers, not ads or other sales pitches.

Although the sale allegedly will not alter the website's content, one can't help but be concerned. The popular indie site only came to my attention as I was finished Every Time I Think of you, and had converted my previous books to Kindle and Nook editions.

Will GoodReads, the once independent avenue for self-promotion, reviews and discussion groups, become a mere branch of the Borg-like overreaching corporation? Will sales links prioritize to Amazon? Will members' book reviews be migrated to the book sales website? And since members often connect their Goodreads profiles and reviews to Facebook, will that huge website merge content, data and personal information?

While I and any careful book lover should never post private information there (or here, on a blog), it still raises concerns of privacy.

But at the same time, it may increase visibility for lesser-known books like mine. The mostly glowing reviews have been coming in one by one, not in droves, as with the books of more popular authors. And most of the reviews come from readers, not newspapers or magazines. 

One topic I would prefer to let go is the entire "how" of being a self-published author. People never stop being curious about that process, so I have written about it before. And another feature goes into depth about how self-published authors are (gasp!) making a living at what they love to do.

While it's great to talk shop with colleagues, or would-be authors, and even at the recent Word Week panel, such discussions feel more like talking about auto parts versus enjoying the ride.

So despite being hosted on corporate websites, I'd like to think that my books are gaining a new and steady readership via individuals, one by one, incrementally and independently. In the same way, fans are liking my author page on Facebook, knowing their data's mined, but not mine.

Oh, and if you do come to the reading at Magnet, I'll even put one of my Lambda Literary Award stickers on your copy of the book... but not on your Kindle.

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