Writing Well 2: 4,000,000 Books and Me

Recently I read a blog post that hit me like a bat on the back of the head. The author, Claude Forthomme, noted that a new book shows up on Amazon every 12 minutes and appropriately called this a self-publishing tsunami.

Claude’s post is now two years old and I expect the tsunami is now even larger. My guess is that Amazon currently has about 4,000,000 book listings.

In the middle of that flood of books are my two quite unnoticed self-published efforts.

That’s a lot of competition.

In another post, Claude shares that only 40 Amazon best selling authors actually make much money. 40 out of four million. I’m not sure what your math background is but even with my meager numbers skills, it seems obvious that the odds for financial success as a self-published writer are about the same as winning the lottery or me being asked to dinner with the President of the United States. It should be mentioned that I’m not his biggest fan.

My current book sales will not allow me to buy a first class ticket to fly to Paris, in fact, those sales barely allow me to buy an occasional beer to drown my writing career sorrows. Perhaps it’s time to throw out all the writing guru marketing crap that tells me that if I only work hard enough and smart enough and, of course, write something decent,, and then have a bit of good luck, I, too will be among the 40 best selling Amazon authors.

Not remotely likely, Grasshopper.

In Seth Godin’s insightful podcast, “Live at Carnegie Hall,” he poses the question of how young aspiring musicians can create successful lives amidst the flood of musical competition released by the same free and easy internet access that has changed the world for all of today’s creative artists. Seth suggests another path for life success. Instead of trying to compete with that tsunami of creative talent, build a tribe of 1000 followers for your unique artistic gift. He notes the careers of musicians who have small but dedicated followers. By focusing on uniquely serving a small group of people with similar passions, such artists have created simple and meaningful lives.

After listening to Seth, I considered my writing career and decided to change my focus to building a tribe of followers around my writing passion, young adult eco-fiction. Here I write for young minds still open and curious about the Natural world, a world that feeds my own soul. I’m building relationships within the eco-fiction community by reviewing other author’s books and being involved with discussion groups. I’m continuing my efforts to support the Save the Vaquita Porpoise! movement. And I keep asking myself the question, how can I best serve the needs of this community, my tribe while pursuing my own life path?

No, Ive not given up on building my writing platform, rather I’ve shifted it’s focus to serving my tribe. Sure, I’d like to sell more books, and I suspect this will happen over time. However, I’m not making plans to fly first class to Paris. I’d rather go fly fishing on the Rogue River.

Here are links to the above mentioned articles- (please make links noted below)

Claude Forthomme’s Blog-

https://claudenougat.wordpress.com/2014/08/19/to-self-publish-and-perish-buried-under-3-4-million-e-books/

https://claudenougat.wordpress.com/2016/02/07/only-40-self-published-authors-are-a-success-says-amazon/

Seth Godin’s Podcast “Live at Carnegie Hall”-

https://vimeo.com/155069902

Good writing!
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Writing Well 3, Everybody Needs a Tribe

In my previous post, “Writing Well 2,” I lamented the fact that with nearly 4,000,000 books listed on Amazon and with only 40 of those authors making any sort of money, my odds of financial success as a self-published author are less than me winning a gold medal at the Olympic Games. Since that activity involves athletes and that’s about the last thing anyone would call me, you get an idea of just how slim the odds are.

If you’re a writer like me, such statistics might be sobering, a bucket of ice water in the face of all those dreams of being a successful author. It certainly was a harsh wake up call for me. At the same time, I was forced to stop and look at my larger life picture. I observed that in my quest for the mythical Holy Grail of best selling authordom, I’d neglected other important areas of my life.

Even though I enjoy the solitude that is part of a writer’s journey, I also need the comfort of companionship. I need to feel part of something bigger than me, to share life and serve others, and, yes, I more than often need a little help from my friends.

How can we create such a community? How do we build our Tribe?

Thank you Jeff Goins for your timely response. In his article, “Every Writer Needs a Tribe,” (link below), Jeff outlines steps we can take to make our Tribe a supportive reality. Of particular value to me, was Jeff’s suggestion that we must be clear about what our “Voice” is in relationship to our tribe. I’ll let you explore his ideas for yourself, but for me this exercise was essential for me getting clear about why and for whom I was writing.

I’m writing young adult eco-fiction stories with solutions.

Have I given up on financial success as a writer? no, I’ll keep working at effective marketing, being a smart businessman, and becoming  a better writer. but my larger goal is to build a successful writing life amidst a supportive community. My main goal is to grow and serve my Tribe.

What is your Tribe and how are you building it around your unique voice?

Here’s the link to Jeff Goins article, “Every Writer Needs a Tribe”-

https://jeffgoins.leadpages.co/every-writer-needs-a-tribe-ebook/

Good writing!

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You might also enjoy: Writing Well 1, The Transformative Power of Classical Music; Writing Well 2, 4,000,000 Books and Me

Back to Love Basics 7, The Plus Side of Solitude Sucks

It’s easy to get so wrapped up in trying to find our soulmate that we forget about the pleasures of being alone. In case your suffering from the solitude sucks syndrome, may I suggest the benefits of not having someone else around to share life with.

Consider these advantages of being one and only one-

1. Living alone means making the bed is optional rather than submit to the control freak compulsions of a significant other.
2. Being alone means that making pancakes for breakfast on Friday at 9 p.m. requires no excuses.
3. Lonely people don’t have to share the last cookie not to mention feel the least bit guilty eating it.
4. Being alone means you can squeeze the toothpaste tube any darn way you want.
5. Alone means you can watch any television channel you want or those dvd’s you’ve been too embarrassed to share, and drink all the beer or eat all the ice cream you feel like in the comfort of your underwear, without any snarky feedback except perhaps from the pleading eyes of your dog. Okay, if you’ve got a dog you can’t possibly be lonely and don’t need to read the rest of this list.
6. Being alone means you need not explain to anyone just why you feel like blowing up balloons and then stoping on them after a trying day at work.
7. Alone means you can change the color of lipstick you wear every day without your room mate asking “Is something the matter?”
8. Single means that when you order a medium pizza you suddenly have enough “food” to last two entire days.
9. Being alone makes grocery shopping so much easier. “Did she say Toastie Crunchies” or was it “Chocolate Crispies?”
10. There is a singular bliss in solitude knowing that you can fart however and whenever you want.
11. Sleeping alone means you don’t have to pretend you are sleeping when he/she comes home late wanting to talk. Another plus on the subject of sleep is that alone means you don’t have to worry about snoring, unless, like me, you snore so loud you wake yourself up.
12. Being alone means you already have the one audience who will always listen to you. Yourself.
13. Perhaps the greatest gift of being alone is that now you are absolutely, totally available to whatever opportunity comes along. This means that when that elder gentleman in the tuxedo and top hat walks up to lonely you sitting by yourself in the coffee shop and says, “Excuse me, I can see that you are lonely and my anonymous employer has authorized me to hand you this round the world travel ticket including a check for $500,000 to cover expenses. The only stipulation is you must leave this week and you must travel alone.”

Of course, you can have only one answer…

“Me?”

And lastly, being “alone” makes you part of one of the world’s biggest ironies.

Consider this, you are sitting in solitude, feeling down, hoping that your life will change. At this very moment, all around the planet, there are millions of fellow loners just like you, with similar thoughts. Conclusion: you are actually surrounded by a sea of fellow solos. None of you are even close to alone.

I’m waiting for someone to stand up in Starbucks and shout, “Hey! Is anybody else lonely here?”

I’m listening…

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You might also enjoy: Seattle Sun, Soulmates at Starbucks

High on Gratitude

in the muck of news’ day platitudes
I’ve lost my cheery attitude
midst hate and anger screamed and spewed
what happened to beatitudes

but past these ugly, mindless feuds
beyond behavior simply rude
there is another world that can be viewed
in Nature’s holy latitudes

in this world outside our doors
flowers dance, birds sing, and oceans roar
a world that heeds not human news
where souls soar high on gratitude

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You might also enjoy: Truth, Promise

Back to Love Basics 5, Me First, Igor meets Himself

“She was everything he’d ever dreamed of, beyond all his fantasies, a woman who left him both mesmerized and drooling.

But, he’d been here before.

Sonja. Helibeth. Anna. Leticia , and countless others. They’d all taken his breath away and left his heart fluttering.

“Good God,” he prayed to the unseen force he didn’t quite believe in, “please let this be different. Give me the courage…”

And that was where it ended.

Again.

Once more, courage failed to answer his call.”

“The courage to what?” interrupted my young nephew, overwhelmed with curiosity.

I paused to study the impatient face beside me.

Then I answered, “Igor was afraid to be himself. He thought that the only way someone, especially a beautiful someone, could love him was if he made himself to be whatever they wanted him to be, and that always ended in disaster.”

“Sounds like Igor had a self-confidence problem,” said the boy whose wisdom went far beyond his years. “So what happened with this babe?”

“Max saved him.”

“Max?”

“Max was a mutt, a dog of no particular breed but very particular character,” I answered, thinking that my nephew and Max had a lot in common.

The boy waited, knowing there was more.

I continued, “Slouched in the apartment’s only chair,a barely padded relic that had known many previous backsides, Igor nursed a cheap beer and pondered his situation. Max lay on the apartment’s only throw rug, another well worn relic, his head resting on outstretched forelegs, sad brown eyes watching the beer can waving in the air.

The can paused and Igor stared up at the ceiling, about to say something to the great power he didn’t quite believe in. Then, remembering the futility of previous prayers, Igor gulped more beer and looked down at Max.

“Max, help me out here,” pleaded Igor, “tell me what to do!”

Suddenly brought to life by inner need to contribute, Max sprang into Igor’s lap and slobbered wet tongue kisses all over the lover wannabe’s face.

“Max! Max buddy!” gasped Igor, pushing his over zealous friend back to the floor. Then, Igor smiled, and looked up at the ceiling again.

“Thank you,” he said softly to the unseen.

I stopped and looked at my nephew.

“Is that it?” he said. “Is there some moral or adult thing I’m supposed to get out of this?”

“What do you think?”

“I think Igor is better off with his dog than with fantasy lovers who don’t accept him for who he is.”

Jeez, I thought, this kid really is smart. Why hadn’t I been able to grasp such things at his age? For that matter, why couldn’t I grasp such things when I was forty or even fifty?

“Sounds right to me,” I replied.

“Tio, does this story have something to do with you,” he asked innocently.

Ouch!

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Looking for more Love and Relationship Help? Get “Remedies for Reluctant Romantics, 100 Ways to Win the Love Game” FREE when you sign up for my newsletter. Subscribe with the widget on the right side of my blog.

You might also enjoy: Back to Love Basics 2, Give the Love You Want; Back to Love Basics 4, Friends First

Writing Well 1, The Transformative Power of Classical Music

My thanks to Anthony Wilson, a fellow WordPress blogger, who shared the link to Benjamin Zander, brilliant teacher and inspiring human being. I’d heard his name mentioned many times, but never took the opportunity to meet him until now and thankfully so.

Benjamin Zander has two infectious passions: classical music, and helping us all realize our untapped love for it — and by extension, our untapped love for all new possibilities, new experiences, and new connections.

This talk moved me to tears, something I’ve needed for a long, long time.

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https://embed-ssl.ted.com/talks/benjamin_zander_on_music_and_passion.html

Blind Blessings

No, when I first lost my sight, I didn’t consider my new condition to be a blessing. Rather, I fell into a deep depression, which I only escaped with the aid of loving family and friends. I needed help and was quite fortunate to eventually connect with the resources that enabled me to become functional again and resume my writing path.

If I may offer some advice, should you find yourself suddenly without sight or visually impaired, ask for help. If you get suicidal, call a suicide hotline. Losing one’s sight is tragic and traumatic, and if you find yourself or someone you care for in this situation, quickly reach out for assistance.

Ironically, I could not have picked a better time to go blind. We are in the midst of the “Golden Age” of assistive technology. One month after I was introduced to computer screen readers, I was communicating with email, researching on the internet, and writing again. Given the dark times I’d ben through, this assistive technology transformation was a miracle.

In the United States, there are many wonderful programs assisting the blind and visually impaired. Here are a few that have helped me-

Blind Services, California Department of Social Services. This program provided evaluation and training, including how to use assistive computer technologies. I think most states have similar programs. They even paid for my new computer and sent a blind guy to my home to train me in how to use it.

http://www.cdss.ca.gov/cdssweb/PG83.htm

Lions’ Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired. This program teaches basic skills required for blind and visually impaired persons to function in daily life.

http://www.lbcenter.org/

Lighthouse for the Blind, San Francisco. This is another great resource that provides access and training for assistive technologies. Similar programs are offered in many other cities.

http://lighthouse-sf.org/about/contact-us/

Here’s my plug for Apple.

A screen reader application provides a voice that reads what is on a computer or cell phone screen. Although Windows computers offer various screen reader applications, Apple provides VoiceOver, its screen reader application, as a basic part of its operating system. This is great because whatever Apple device I buy includes VoiceOver, no need to add any other screen reader. An extra bonus, is that Apple has Siri, a voice activated program that allows me, for instance, to create and send an email with voice commands. My fingers never have to type a thing.

No,VoiceOver is not a perfect system, but it works well most of the time. To their credit, Apple keeps improving VoiceOver and voice activated functionality. With VoiceOver you can pick language and even voice character types, from staid English Alex to almost sexy Swedish Sonya.

http://www.apple.com/accessibility/osx/voiceover/

One more thing, something that has turned out to be a real blessing for the writer I’m working to be. The U.S. National Library Service has a program called B.A.R.D., which means Blind and Audio Reader Download. This is a fantastic and free new application for smart phones. With this app I can download thousands of audio books in the NLS system. This has become my secret writer’s sanctuary, a place I can go and listen to the great writing works. Currently, I’m listening my way through the Pulitzer Prize winning books of the last 100 years.

You need to first register with your state blind services agency to gain access to NLS and B.A.R.D.. Once you do, a whole new world is yours to explore.

https://nlsbard.loc.gov/login//NLS

Okay, by now you’ve realized that I found my way out of depression’s grip with a lot of help, and, yes, I’ve even found that blindness has been a blessing to me.

How?

First, losing my sight has forced me to be more humble. I can’t get through a day without asking for help. For a guy who was extremely self-reliant, this was a difficult change to make. However, I now recognize that there is a time to love and a time to let love in.

Perhaps my biggest blessing from blindness is that I’ve been forced to learn how to listen, to be acutely aware of the sounds around me and the feelings behind the words I hear. It has been said that the first rule of love is to listen. Blindness has given me a new path to love bigger.

And, I’m back to writing again. Here are some popular posts you might enjoy-

Gee, I Haven’t Been Suicidal for Months
Blind, But Now I Hear
Blind Man’s Bluff
Why I Like Being Blind

Again, if you or a someone close to you is dealing with the challenges of blindness or visual impairment, reach out for help. If I can be of any assistance, please contact me at tiostib@gmail.com.

There is Hope! Never give up!

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