Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Monday, March 25, 2013

Books You Must NEVER Read!

   Before we get into the books you must NEVER read let’s look at some of the books you probably SHOULDN’T read.

   Our number 1 book you probably shouldn’t read is a story of struggle, of determination and of finally attaining one’s dream.

   As with most of these stories, our tale begins with a young man returning from war only to discover that his country has been destroyed and ravaged by its enemies. In the years that follow even more misery is heaped upon the people of his once proud land. 
   Their economy crashes, the banks default, their currency becomes worthless and the communists are increasing in numbers.

   With his country teetering on the edge of disaster, the young man puts aside his dreams of a bohemian lifestyle and becomes involved politically. Because of his unswerving commitment, his unyielding dedication, engaging oratory and personal magnetism he quickly becomes popular and the public starts viewing him as a possible political savior.

   The government notices this as well, and fearing that his popularity may lead to revolution, they do what most threatened governments do, they arrest him and throw him into prison; often the fate of the true revolutionary. Many of our visionaries who valiantly take stands against government oppression are routinely executed and their bodies dumped into unmarked graves.  

   However, this is not the fate of this young man. He instead uses his jail time to write and reexamine his political future, fine tuning it so he will be viewed as an asset to the government instead of an enemy.

   Once released he immediately goes to work, carefully planning his every move, carefully crafting his every speech, and most importantly carefully creating his public image.

   He becomes a whirlwind of hard work, of determination. A true unstoppable force!

   And within a few years he achieves his country’s highest office. But he is not one to rest on his laurels. No, he immediately goes to work to reestablish his nation as a proud and strong people. He almost single-handedly rebuilds the country’s economy, revitalizes its army, repairs and replaces its crumbling infrastructure and returns to his country its standing as a world leader!

   And who was this young fire-brand? This unbowed anti-communist. This fiscal conservative, job creator and nation builder?

   Why it’s the late, great…

   Wait… Who!!?

    Oh… You got to be kidding me!

    Really!? Adolf  F**cking Hitler!? And the book we’re talking about is Mein Kampf?

   Well, there is at least one thing we can learn from this, and that is it’s sometimes a good idea for a government to arrest radicals, execute them and dump them in unmarked graves, because more often than not, they just make things worse.

   The next book you probably shouldn’t read reminds us that although you are exceedingly bright, industrious and a success that doesn’t necessarily mean you should write a book that reveals your personal feeling about people, places and things.

   Here’s a quick Public Service Announcement: If you have managed to become wealthy, successful and adored by the public, DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT, write a book!

   Seriously, what possible good could come from that? You’re already a success, have lots of money and are admired and loved by the public. My advice? Shut up, lie low, enjoy every moment of your phenomenal good fortune and sign autographs. I always sign autographs because people seem to like it and should I wind up brutally murdered in some opium den/whorehouse and found naked in bed with a chicken and a trumpet, I GUARANTEE, my autograph is going to be worth some real money.

   And also because I LOVE my readers.

   Anyway, this beloved businessman, inventor, innovator decided he needed to write column in the newspaper he owned. The column was called the International Jew. He wrote 91 columns on this topic and they later went on to be bound into four volumes in a book called The International Jew.  

   And in a amazing quirk or irony, guess who owned a well read copy of the International Jew and had a picture of its author on his wall?

   That right, friends, Adolf Hitler!

   And who was the person who wrote the International Jew? Whys it’s that Beloved American Icon, Henry Ford!

   But enough about these books that you probably SHOULDN’T read, what you need to know are the names of the books you must NEVER Read.

   Click this link to be spirited to my other blog where I reveal the information you seek.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Fight For Your Dreams

   Why fight? Because you are your only friend. More importantly, you’re the only one you can trust completely. Not your spouse, not your children, not your friends, not the government and certainly not the company you work for.

   Just you.
   The only problem is, you might be unintentionally blocking yourself from having the life you want. I discovered that’s exactly what I was doing and that’s a hard lesson to learn.
   You see. I was born at the end of the ‘Leave it to Beaver’ era when fathers left for work each morning and moms took care of the kids and the house. Dad worked for a pharmaceutical company and made a good salary. As kids we were taught to study hard and keep our noses clean so that we too, could grow up and work for a big company and make a good salary and have a good life.

   And so we studied hard, kept out noses clean, graduated and went to work for big companies.


   Somewhere along the line, that agreement got kicked to the curb. They discovered that their American made products could be manufactured cheaper overseas, and robots could do assembly line work for free, and by doing so profits would go through the roof.  Isn’t that great? The only problem was that all the people who were in that line of work got kicked to the curb.

   Did anybody care? Well, at first they did, but eventually the public was convinced it was for the overall good and those people would easily find other jobs. Then those big corporations began outsourcing everything to the cheap labor force of third world countries and even more people got kicked to the curb.

   And the government said that it was good. And don’t worry about the people who lost their jobs because they were Americans and Americans weren’t afraid of hard work. They would find jobs because people who aren’t lazy always manage to find jobs…   

   Raise your fist and chant with me people, “U-S-A, U-S-A, U-S-A!”

   Five years ago I was on top of the world. My YA novel Frostie the Deadman was selling well, I had a good job, owned a house and had bought a new sports car. I had fully recovered from my divorce, was dating and had returned to performing my music before live audiences, which was something I hadn’t done for over a decade.

   Then it all went to hell.

   I’m sure I’m not alone in this. I’d be willing to bet that you, dear reader, have a similar story or have a close friend or relative who found themselves in the same predicament. Very few were spared with the economy collapsed and the recession began. And like most people I was confident it wouldn’t affect me. I had won employee of the month earlier that year and consistently had better percentages than my co-workers.

   I soon learned none of that mattered.

   I wasn’t looking at the big picture. I didn’t realize that what affected one part of the company, affected all parts of the company. I was only mildly concerned when management announced that our fabrication department was being closed and that the marketing department was being phased out.

   Then over the next few months I’d arrive at work and discover yet another empty desk, and yet another work buddy shoved out the door. Don’t worry, they said, the lay-offs won’t affect you, they said.

   But… they… lied.

   So there I was; middle-aged, divorced and unemployed. “This is probably for the best,” I told myself. “When my publisher releases my follow up to Frostie the Deadman this spring, I’ll be able to devote all my time to promoting it.”

   Not much later I received a letter from said publisher stating that due to unexpected financial downturns they would be unable to fulfill their contractual obligations regarding my book’s release. Then the writers strike hit and all those suddenly unemployed writers decided to become novelists and the book market got saturated. 
   The turnaround time for queries and sample chapters quickly stretched to 6 to 9 MONTHS!

   So I decided to start my own company and began studying the business. The first thing I learned was that as a writer, I didn’t know a damn thing about the business end of my craft. Didn’t know that in most cases the author receives the least amount of money from the sales of their book and often have to rely on public appearances to pay the rent.

   Big, BIG learning curve. Money was flying out the door and very little was coming in. At the time I didn’t know the MOST IMPORTANT THING regarding publishing. And that, my friends, is promotion, publicity and marketing. Looking back on my book tours, I often wondered why I’d be a big hit in some cities, attracting crowds who had come to see me and buy my books and in other cities find an empty store with no buyers and no interest.

   The answer is promotion, publicity and marketing. If you’re not actively doing that or aren’t at least paying some company to do it, your career is doomed.

   Unless, of course, you catch a lucky break like I did.

   Then within a week or so things really started turning around, hits to my weekly blog began to skyrocket, the number of people LIKING my Facebook aripublishing fan page went through the roof.       

Monday, March 11, 2013

What They SHOULD Teach In School

   One of the lines from Paul Simon’s hit song Kodachrome is “When I look back on all the crap I learned in high school, it’s a wonder I can think at all.

   So true.

   Having received my grammar school education at a Catholic school I can safely say I was well prepared for high school, primarily because they beat the living hell out of you until you knew by heart whatever they taught. Had I known there were high schools that catered to the arts, I would have applied since I was already a fairly good illustrator and had written a couple of songs.

   But I didn’t know they existed.

   So I followed the other lemmings into a catholic high school and promptly wasted 4 years of my life. I knew what I wanted to learn. The school had a course on learning to speak Russian, which I was very much interested in as it was during the Cold War. They also taught classical music, another thing I was very interested in. They also had a drama class that would perform several plays a year, which I felt was another thing I could excel at.

   Except I wasn’t allowed to take any of those courses.

   You see, another thing that I didn’t know was that freshmen were assigned their courses according to their scores on their aptitude tests. I scored very well in math and languages.  It’s fairly well known today that musicians are generally good at math because both use and develop the same area of the brain. The fact that I became a novelist verifies a certain talent for language.  

   But my requests to take Russian and Classical music were immediately turned down. Instead of taking Russian, which I was very enthusiastic about, I was given Latin, a dead language and one I had come to hate having had to learn to recite literally pages of text back when I was an altar boy. And instead of Classical music, I was put in the accelerated math class. Math was a subject I was never interested in and never studied, yet I always managed to maintain a mid-eighties grade.

   So in my freshman year I, of course, flunked Latin and had to go to summer school. In sophomore year I again applied for Russian and had managed to learn a bit of it on my own to show I would do well in the class.

   Nope. I was assigned French, another language I had absolutely no interest in. And although I never paid much attention in Algebra class or bothered to learn the formulas, I still managed to maintain mid-eighties grades.

   Here’s an ironic story for you. I scored an 88% on my freshman Algebra finals having never studied. The thing is with the Algebra final is that you are required to show how you came to your answer, which involved using the correct Algebraic formulas.
I didn’t know any of them. However, I still managed to figure out and correctly answer those, ‘If a car leaves Boston and is traveling at 55 miles an hour and another car… type questions as well as most of the others.

   Because I hadn’t shown my work, I was accused of cheating and they threatened to fail me for the year. I said I hadn’t cheated and to prove it I would take another test, alone and in the front desk while the teacher watched. They figured I was bluffing so they agreed.

   I got a 92% on the second test and explained to the teacher how I had figured out the answers.  I was sure I would be removed from the accelerated math group as I plainly had no interest, knowledge or skills whatsoever. Instead, I was assigned to the Trigonometry class and later Calculus.

   By senior year I was a physical and emotional mess. Why? Because they decided, they would decide what I needed to learn. Not me. The fact that my final average dropped every year following freshman year might have indicated a problem. The fact that I was doing poorly in the maths and sciences (chemistry nearly killed me) and was at the top on my class in English, Social Studies and strangely enough Economics, (at the time Economics was the study of how businesses worked, how product were marketed and the like, which I found very interesting,) might have pointed to a change in strategy.

   Nope. So by graduation I had bleeding ulcers, chronic anxiety attacks and had to take anxiety meds just to make it over the finish line. I didn’t bother to attend my graduation, and although I had been accepted by two very good colleges, there was no way in hell I was going to spend another minute in school. So I never went.

  Now here’s thing. I can play seven musical instruments. I have written over 300 songs. I have written eight novels, 50 short stories, and wrote and illustrated 30 of my own comic books when I was a kid. I designed my band’s logo as well as Ari Publishing’s logo. If you’re a regular reader of my weekly blog you know that I have offered various solutions to our nation’s current problems.

   So you would probably assume that a person blessed with so many God given abilities would have done well in college.

   I guess we’ll never know.

   So would you like to know what needs to be taught in school? Click this link to my other blog for the breakdown. http://www.empowernetwork.com/writingguy/blog/what-they-should-be-teaching-in-school/?id=writingguy 

Monday, March 4, 2013

Why Your Books Aren't Selling

   If you’re a writer who’s self published and can’t get more than a small group of people to read your novels, it’s probably driving you crazy, right?

   You’re doing all the social media things. You’re on Facebook and Twitter and Linked-in. You’ve gone the KDP route with at least one of your books with Amazon Kindle. (Results: 2000 downloads, no sales, 8 reviews, and 2 of them are from people whose reviews say something like: I started to read it and it seemed pretty good but then I kinda got side tracked and didn’t read any more of it but what I did read, I liked!

   You know it’s a damn good book (at least you and your friends and relatives think so) and if people just gave it a chance they’d probably like it very much.

   But they won’t give it a chance!

   So, what do you do?

   Well, this is the time to stop writing and start focusing on why your amazing novel is floundering. “But, I’m a writer, not an editor or a salesman,” you say. “My job is to write, an editor’s job is to edit and a salesman’s job is to sell.”

   If you agree with the above sentence; THAT is one of the reasons why your book isn’t selling.

   Welcome to the 21st century, my friend. If you chose to become a writer because you liked the idea of living in some artist community, like NYC’s Greenwich Village, San Francisco’s Haight Ashbury or Taos, New Mexico, whilst waxing philosophical, cavorting with other free spirits and pondering what your literary masterpiece will be about as you squander your book advance…

   Spoiler Alert!

   Those days are long gone. The writing life that Hemingway, Virginia Wolff, F. Scott Fitzgerald and other literary notables of that era enjoyed has sailed off to Moonlight Bay.
  What replaced it has been lured into the shallows and is being eaten by cannibals.

   True, the printed book is holding its own against the e-book. But the product is changing. If you write fiction, your shelf space in book stores is dwindling. Non-Fiction is the new King and its heir is the celebrity novelist.

   Have a great children’s book? A guaranteed best seller?

   And it may be just that. It’s so good it lands you an agent, who gets you a meeting with a publisher. Looks like everything is finally going your way… But then…


   Both Madonna and Jamie Lee Curtis have submitted manuscripts and the publishers are falling over each other to sign them for huge advances.

   But you’ve read their children’s books and yours are SO MUCH BETTER!

   You’d think that would make a difference, wouldn’t you?

   Alas! It does not! Besides, what makes you think you’re qualified to write a children’s book? Have you pranced around naked in movies, magazines and books like they have?

   No? Well then, get to the back of the line.

   But there could be other reasons. One of them is that the book is terrible and you don’t know it. Sure your friends and family will tell you it’s great but they love you and don’t want to hurt you…

   Book critics don’t and they do want to hurt you for wasting their time. Seriously, just because you can write doesn’t mean you’re a writer. It literally takes years of writing utter crap before you develop a unique voice and the skills necessary to be taken seriously as an author. So join a writers group and submit your work for critique. If it’s returned with massive grammatical corrections, pointed out plot holes, timeline inaccuracies and location errors, that only means you’re still at the bottom of the learning curve and have a way to go to perfect your craft.


   If you want to save yourself a lot of time and rejection letters? Go to http://www.aripublishing.com/how_to_get_your_book_published and watch the free tutorials. If the free ones teach you a lot of things you didn’t know, then buy the set. 
   You going to need to know that stuff eventually so don’t put it off, just buy it now while it’s still affordable.

   Next, it could be the product itself. If you’ve gone the vanity press route, odds are your book looks just like the other thousands of cookie cutter template book covers. 
   Go to an Indie Book Fair and you’ll see hundreds of books that all look the same. And that, my friend, screams amateur!

   And if it’s an e-book uploaded to Kindle, was it formatted properly? If not, you may not be aware that from 23% to 34% there is only one sentence per page.

   And that’s only the tip of the iceberg!
   To learn more go to:

   Part 2 of ‘Why Your Books Aren’t Selling’ which continues this post, can be viewed on my marketing blog. Here’s the link: http://www.empowernetwork.com/writingguy/