Kirkus Fully Booked Podcast

Earlier this year I posted Kirkus’ review of Survived. It was a very positive review from a publication that is notorious for not pulling punches and holding a high bar. Naturally, I was stoked. Who wouldn’t be? As much as it sounds awesome to be one of those aloof, too-cool-for-school writers who chain smokes and drinks whiskey while clacking away at a typewriter and just doesn’t give a heck what you think — that’s not me. I write stories for other people to read, so I do care how my work is received. Obviously, I’ll never achieve universal popularity, but I love it when I see a positive review or get an email from a reader. Also, I don’t smoke, get hangovers too easily, and using a typewriter in this day and age is masochistic (I learned to type on a typewriter, it was awful).

Point is, I got the review from Kirkus, rode that high for a while, then moved on.

A couple months ago, Kirkus reached out to me to tell me that Survived had been singled out as one of their “Indie Books Worth Discovering,” a category of books reserved for indie titles that were in their top ten percent of favorites for the year. Awesome! Along with that I had the opportunity to plug my book in the Kirkus Fully Booked podcast. Sweet! So, last week I did a short interview which should be part of the January 8th edition of Fully Booked. If you’re one of the many podcast listeners, listen for an interview with a bestselling author, and then stay tuned for four minutes of me babbling incoherently.

For real. Listen, I’m not an extroverted person and I live in a general state of nervousness, like one of those dogs that pees when it’s really happy. Or sad. Or scared. Or when you bring food. When the editor called me on Skype for the interview, I was already humming along in a state of Maximum Anxiety. He was super nice, but I just couldn’t get it together. It went something like this:

Editor: Okay, A. Michael, we don’t have a ton of time, so try to keep your answers short so we can get to as many questions as possible.

Me: You got it. No problem.

Editor: Starts recording. Asks first question.

Me: Rambles like a methhead.

Good grief. I don’t even remember what the hell I said, or what questions he asked. All I know is that I made words with my mouth-hole. Hopefully, this interview doesn’t actually have a reverse effect and discourage people from checking out Survived.

Despite that, I’m still excited that Kirkus gave me this opportunity, and I’m hoping the actual interview won’t be as bad as I think it is. Fingers crossed.

Audio Book Question Mark

Audio books are popular and gaining more traction. I honestly had no idea, as until recently, I had little to no exposure to them. Sure, I remember hearing commercials for Audible on NPR, but I didn’t pay it much notice. Audio books always seemed like a format that was important for people who were visually impaired. Something restricted to a small section of a bookstore or that had to be ordered. It wasn’t until I started hearing people who had previously described themselves as “not a reader” talking about books that I gave the format much thought. Like so many other things, modern technological infrastructure (teh interwebz) has allowed this format to flourish.

What I heard from friends and coworkers was that they listened to books in the car while they were stuck in traffic, riding in a bus or train, or in a waiting room somewhere. I love the idea that people who ordinarily wouldn’t go shopping for a book are now finding themselves getting sucked into narratives or engrossed in interesting non-fiction.

The whole point of this is that independent authors such as myself (and many, many others) also have the opportunity to release our work in this medium. However, while there are platforms available to launch an audio book, such as Amazon’s ACX, the process can be costly, time consuming, or expensive. Many authors still avoid it, as there is no evidence that they’ll see any return on investment for the additional work and cost. I get that, and I don’t disagree.

However, I’m not in it for the money. Don’t get me wrong, man, I like money. Who doesn’t?

I just came to terms with the reality of being a writer, especially one who isn’t backed by a major publisher, a long time ago. It’s probably more accurate to say that I’m already expecting not to make money. I like creating. I love writing. And, personally, I don’t feel that artistic impulses should be regulated by profit potential. I want to have audio books for The Changed and Survived. Not because I’m under the illusion that it’s going to make those titles skyrocket to bestsellers’ lists, but because I want to my work available to people who may not have time to crack a book in the evening, but like to listen to a story on their commute.

I have no idea how long it will take, or even if it will work out. But, it’s a fun topic to do some blog posts about, especially since I blog so infrequently. So keep an eye out for some future posts, where I’ll be stumbling my way through making an audio book.

Congratulations to the Winners

The giveaways for the launch of Survived are officially over. Over 2500 people entered to win, which is my biggest turnout yet.

So, a big “Thank you!” to all who entered, and the books will be on the way soon. For those who didn’t win, I’m sure I’ll do another giveaway in due time.

Giveaways!

In honor of the release of Survived, I’m doing giveaways for both The Changed and Survived on Goodreads. Check out the details, below:

 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Changed by A. Michael Marsh

The Changed

by A. Michael Marsh

Giveaway ends October 10, 2017.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Survived by A. Michael Marsh

Survived

by A. Michael Marsh

Giveaway ends October 10, 2017.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Survived – The First Review!

Survived_Kindle_Cover

Reviews can be tricky. You need reviews (ideally positive) to get people to read a book, but, you also need people to read a book in order to get reviews. It’s a vicious cycle that is the bane of many an author.

Unless you’re already a powerhouse author, a celebrity, or the child of a publishing executive, chances are that the New York Times isn’t going to come knocking on your door for the privilege of reviewing an advance copy of your latest tale. That’s okay. It’s just life as an author. Everyone has to earn their stripes.

What it means to authors like yours truly is that we have to engage with unbiased third parties to review our books. For the most part these are trade publications that specialize in reviewing new books — folks like Kirkus, Clarion, and Publisher’s Weekly. These reviews, when positive, can let readers know what to expect from a book, hopefully, enticing them to read and leave a review of their own on sites like Goodreads or Amazon.

Which is why I was absolutely stoked to see the first trade review for Survived come back. Foreword Clarion reviewed the novel ahead of its release and awarded it five out of five stars. Check out the review in its entirety here: https://www.forewordreviews.com/reviews/survived/

I’m setting up a Goodreads giveaway for the book as well, it should be up in a couple of weeks. I’ll also be posting a page for more information about the novel soon.

Survived is scheduled to launch on September 1st.

Almost here!

The edits for Survived have finally been reviewed and I’ve been busy getting the typesetting and other technical crap done. Since art was finished a million years ago, the book is very close to being published. 

Once these last few tasks are completed it will go to a couple of trusted beta readers then it’s off to the presses. I’m not going to lie, it feels pretty good. 

Where the Hell is Survived and What Have You Been Doing?

When was my last post? Over a year ago, or something? I vaguely remember that post being about posting more. Kind of ironic.

Anyway. Survived, which is the sequel to The Changed, has been written and edited for well over a year. What I still need to do is go through the edits, which is a bit of a time-consuming process. After that it will be good to go for release. Why haven’t I finished yet? I mean, it has been a while. The short answer is, time.time

That slippery bastard. I remember being a kid and having to wait an hour for something. Feeling each minute stretch on and on like taffy. These days, I swear I only have to sneeze and a year will have gone by.

Was that a convincing excuse?

Here’s the thing. For the past year and a half I’ve been part of a writing cohort at ASU’s Piper Writing Center. The program is called Your Novel Year, and it’s an intensive designed for writers to hone the craft of writing a young adult novel. Much of the novel writing I’ve done in the past has been speculative fiction. But I had a concept for a story that I wanted to write which was contemporary, so I felt that this would be the perfect opportunity to work on the skills it takes to write in that genre. I applied, was accepted, and had a wonderful experience. I got to learn from and be mentored by authors like Bill Konigsberg, Amy Nichols, Sharon Flake, Lish McBride, and Tom Laveen. Tremendous.

Some of my friends asked me why I wanted to do this program, since I’d already written novels before. “Isn’t that the point?” They’d ask. “To finish a novel? You’ve done that.” I guess that’s true, but a person is never done learning. Seriously, there is no craft that can ever be mastered to completion, and writing is no different. The second we stop pushing ourselves to learn more, we stagnate. I don’t want to stagnate. I want to get better. I want every book I write to be my best book yet. There are still so many opportunities to grow.

So, time. The program was intense and required my full attention. As of this past week, however, it’s over. After a year and a half of assignments, writing, critiques, and working with some of the best writers and people I’ve ever met, we finished. Those of us who live in the Phoenix area met up for a public reading at Changing Hands Bookstore. Despite my public speaking jitters, it was a fantastic experience.

IMG950929

Now I’ll finally get back to those edits on Survived. Then I’ll start working on my next manuscript, because I’ve still got stories to tell.

Cover Reveal: Survived

So the cover artwork for Survived, the sequel to The Changed, has been completed. I’m very excited about how it turned out and I can’t want to get this bad boy on the cover of the forthcoming book. It was painted by none other than the great Kyna Tek, you can see more of his work on his Facebook page.

The_Survived_Cover_Final_Kyna_Tek

Some Love for The Changed

Reviews are important. People need a trusted source (not from the author’s homies or cousins) to get more information about a book beyond what they get in the sales copy and flavor text. Sure, not all reviews will be applicable to all readers as tastes vary widely, but overall it’s a helpful tool. When it comes to getting your work into the hands of readers there really is no substitute.

There are some little known nuances when it comes to getting reviews, though. Most readers aren’t aware of this because, well, why should they care, but getting a novel reviewed is actually sort of difficult. If you want a trade publication to review a book that isn’t being published by an already well known author or from a juggernaut publisher, it can take a lot of time and money to make it happen. Because of this, reader reviews become even more important to today’s authors. There are way more books than there are trade publications so we rely heavily on the opinion of readers to help others navigate a marketplace stuffed full of content and find the books they’ll love.

Point is, I truly and deeply appreciate when readers write reviews. It takes their time and attention to do so and it means a great deal to me when they do. Earlier this week I received a message from Hayley Cosgrove, showing me her review of The Changed which appeared in a recent issue of her university’s library circular (on the first page, no less!). You can check it out here: What We Read 201510

So here’s a big shout out to Hayley for sharing her review and pimping my book for all of her university’s reading community to see!

If you’ve ever shared some love for The Changed drop me a line, I’d love to hear about it.

Little Red Exclamation Marks

Last night I was “hanging” as the kids say, with some of my friends of the writing persuasion.

fellow_kids

This is me, IRL

We get together about once a month and catch up. Sometimes we’re good and we trade pages, other times we spend the majority of our time having a beer and talking. Mostly about writer-ish topics. So when the topic of blogs and websites came up, one such friend — let’s call her Shmonica — wasted no time in pointing out that it’s been months since I even tweeted anything.

People pointing towards a senior business man

Guilty.

She’s right, of course. Generating content is a way of letting the people who care know that I’m still around, actively writing and getting a new novel together for them. It doesn’t have to be all original, either, she said. People may want to see the articles and blog posts that I find interesting, since they might enjoy that, too.

guilty_pup

Double guilty.

All good points. I think I’ll appoint her as my social media manager. A position that comes with a less than impressive title, no pay, and intangible benefits to be named later.

"I dub thee, Sir NotBePaid, of the most noble house of FreeLabor."

“I dub thee, Sir NotBePaid, of the most noble house of FreeLabor.”

This did get me thinking, though. I tend to shy away from posting frequently not simply because I’m too lazy to write blog posts (I am too lazy to write blog posts) but because sometimes I feel like we’re just inundated with stimulus, especially on the internet. You know what I mean? Maybe you’re on Facebook and you see some link that seems mildly interesting, so you click. Within two seconds you’re treated to an auto-playing video that blares through your speakers, the screen goes dark and a window pops up asking for your email address or to click some godforsaken “Like” button. An endearing process which will repeat itself every time you click the next arrow seven times on an article so mundane you can’t even remember what brought you there in the first place.

This is the first condition of the modern internet user experience. I just don’t want to be a part of that problem. So I don’t code that crap into my site. I don’t post click-bait. There’s also a less altruistic motive in there, too. See, I want you as a reader to actually care when I do post something.

It’s like this. Ever worked in an office? I’ll assume that’s a yes. If not, just stick with me for a minute. In every office ecosystem there’s this one guy (dude, muchacho, cat, etc.) who manages to over-inflate the importance of everything they do. Every call is so important they’ll ring your desk over and over until they get you on the line. Every visit is so crucial that they’ll interrupt anyone’s conversation to explain their urgent business. And of course, every single one of their email comes through Microsoft Outlook with that goddamned red exclamation point on it, “Marked as important.”

Without fail, this person’s interruptions, intrusions, and emergencies are never important. They never in any way, shape, or form constitute a need for your immediate or undivided attention. This is the second aspect of the modern internet user experience. Every website now behaves like this idiot cohort as they vie for your attention. All headlines are tagged with cliche phrases like:

“…my jaw dropped!”

“10 Things that…”

“I lost it at…”

“You’ll never believe what she/he does next!”

“Oh, the Feels!”

“…and I’m dying!”

Credit to desertbeagle__

Credit to desertbeagle__

clickbait2

credit to collegehumor.com

My motive is to not do this either. Not only because the behavior makes my ass itch, but also because I know that as soon as I do start in with that crap? Not a single person will want to click on anything I post. Eventually, I’m going to post something I want readers to see. The release date of a novel. New cover artwork. A review I’m proud of. Anything else I think you would enjoy.

But there has to be a middle ground, doesn’t there? Some place between prolific click-baiting and the dead air that normally permeates my little slice of the blogosphere. I can do that. I can do better. And with the help of my new, unpaid social media manager, I can get started right away.