The thing to realize is that getting published is not, nor has it ever been the finish line. Many publishers just allocate a pool of marketing funds for your book and, if it doesn’t take off, it is left to wallow. The reality is that the marketplace (largely the internet) has changed and is changing so perpetually that publishing houses don’t have much of a clue as to how to efficiently CYBER-market a book. When asked how they will cyber-market, they tend to be evasive. So now the publishing company owns a piece of your book and it is YOUR responsibility to sally forth marketing. Of course, we authors don’t have a clue how to do this and often are not armed with the character type inclined to do so. Personally, I find it a bit depressing. Of course, what we do individually with the angst we experience from the vicissitudes of life makes all the difference!
And let’s remember who cares the most about your success: YOU. When looking to write a blurb for the back cover of my novel I began grabbing books and flipping them over. My conclusion: awful. Uninspiring, vapid, hackney, lackluster tripe. Even for popular books. Obviously written by a publishing house intern who either didn’t read, doesn’t care or is too drunk to kludge coherent prose together. I mean this is your chance to grab a reader! The blurb should captivate.
And here is what should really grind you: You were led to believe you should find a publisher first which is, in essence, finding another person who will champion your book to a bunch of other people. Good luck. If I don’t believe in my own book some days, how easy is it going to be to find someone else who does? And quite simply, this is a massive delay and constant assault on your ego. Why would you search for a door when there are no more walls?
So the answer for a shrewd, renaissance man or woman is to self-publish. THIS DOES NOT MEAN UPLOADING A TEXT DOC TO AMAZON AND DONE. Professional self-publishing has costs: copy editing, content editing, artwork, and marketing, at a minimum. Printing can cost nothing since its all print-on-demand now.
In the end, paying $1000 to $3000 to have your book edited is a huge benefit to your writing. I had mine edited twice and the content advice I got was wonderful. (I didn’t have someone close to me to do it for free.) In retrospect, it gives me tremendous peace of mind to know that all of the copy was proofed by a professional.
In short, here’s how I did it: My cousin is a freelance editor, so he did my copy and content editing (~$2000). I hired an artist off of eLance who had done many book covers (<$500). I wish I could tell you how to market, but I am still figuring that out. I hired a company to help me get things going amarketingexpert.com (~$3500).
Finally, I just want to share that on the day my book went live, there was no explosion. It’s been a slow drip and could be for a long time. I love my book, however, and I’ve gotten enough affirmation via reviews and feedback to know it will do well, if put in front of people. And we creatives have to market more. We hate it … we want to be discovered in our caves, but I know that fully 50% of our time must be spent socializing our cool stuff.
I am with you. I am one of you. Long live the fighters!
Having done my fair share of traveling, I prefer to avoid tours. The real problem with them is that you don’t control where you eat and drink and potentially linger, if you find that sweet spot to chill. To moi, sites are secondary and so is a schedule. I prefer to tarry where I fancy, checkmarking-the-tourist-attractions-off be damned. If you are healthy enough to walk, you can take the train and get close to most destinations. Japan will really sink in as you walk from the station and admire the architecture and cleanliness. The people are, in large, wonderful, although I met one American who did not agree (he had been in Okinawa … if that means anything to you. It’s a bit more Americanized … which is to say ‘sick of us’.).
For eats, you want to hit ramen shops and izakeya’s. Ramen shops will hook you up with fried rice, gyoza (dumplings) and ramen. I suggest you get ramen that looks cloudy and spicy. They do provide pictures for practically everything. Learn the word for spicy (karai). My favorite is tonkotsu (pork) ramen.
If it’s party time, hit an izakeya (drinking hall) and grab a daijouki (big beer). There enjoy a baffling menu of American- and Japanese-style finger foods to share. Long wood tables for sitting with others you don’t know and Japanese lanterns everywhere … oh yeah, you’re in it now!
If you want to take your drinking up a notch, search out beer gardens. These are often all you can eat and drink establishments on the top floors of tall buildings, i.e. hotels and skyscrapers. The goal here is clear: fun via drinking.
Other great food dishes are shabu shabu, sukiyaki, and yakiniku. Many restaurants combine the shabu shabu and sukiyaki dinners, so you can try both in one go. They consist of cooking meat and veggies in a flavored broth at your table. Yakiniku is simply grilling meat and veggies at a grill in the center of your table. Yummy, smoky goodness … but keep your eyes on your kids’ fingers … no, I’m not kidding.
If sushi is a must, go to a family sushi restaurant. I always ordered custom sushi as I prefer cooked fish. They will gladly sear tuna and salmon and season it for you. I learned this trick watching Japanese families order it … not my idea! By the time I left Japan the fourth time, my definition for sushi became “anything with rice”.
Also, you haven’t ‘done’ Japan until you hit a karaoke box. Karaoke bars are fine, but the box is where we ended up most of the time. They are rooms you rent by the hour that have couches, tables and a karaoke machine. You can bring your own beverages and food or order from their menu.
Few of us have more than a week to spare for vacation and you can’t see the whole country in one trip. That said, you really should see the following:
In Kyoto, Kyoumizudera, Ginkakuji, Kinkakuji, Fushimi-Inari Taisha (or “the 1000 torii gate temple”) and Nijo Castle with the Nightingale floors.
In Hiroshima, the memorial there. Aside, a relative of mine once witnessed Japanese tourists visiting the U.S.S. Arizona in Hawaii and thought, “What? Are they here surveying their handwork?” All I could reply was that I visited Hiroshima and my mindset was anything but smug.
Of course, there are many other amazing places, among them are Nara, Osaka Castle, the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Mt. Fuji, Nikko, etc. There are also numerous hot springs in which to soak … we went to Hakone where some places had numerous springs, including tea, milk, salt, wine, coffee …. oh my!
So this is terribly abbreviated, but a good primer. When my in-laws visited, we did Tokyo and Kyoto, mainly, and also stopped at Fuji and Hakone. It was a good circuit without being overly ambitious.
Try to give yourself time to relax and get to know the people, no matter where you travel. For me, those exchanges become the most memorable. Jyaa ne!!!
For those of you bringing up the rear, get your copy ASAP! If you require special financing, reply to this email and I may be able to amortize your payment over 30 years (interest-only loans available for you fiscally-shrewd types), accept Warcraft gold, or barter by some other means.
I truly appreciate your generosity and encouragement!
P.S. I do not actually play Warcraft … surprised?!
metal shards are catapulted over enemy armies, summoning lightning from
the clouds. Plants and creatures have evolved to use electricity for
survival–an obsidian humanoid race, the inazuma, feed on lightning. And a few enlightened humans, an order of warrior monks, masters of electrical weaponry and physics, use it to fight and heal.
is a naïve young warrior in this dangerous world. After killing his own
brother, Shotoku vows never again to use his tremendous electromagnetic
powers. But on the eve of invasion, as allies turn traitor and danger gnashes from all sides, can he hold his oath pure? Drawn
to his virtue, an enemy warrior princess, Makiko, will help him find
balance; and, when his principles falter, his roguish friend, Jirai,
will deliver salvation.
unleash his chaotic power, and face the invaders alone? Or, by honoring
his oath, will he gain the new allies that might help him save the world?
In 1992, I went to Japan for the first time. Being an English major had begun to worry me and I wanted a hard skill. Learning a language sounded like a good idea and I had really enjoyed studying Japanese culture and history, so I picked Japanese. I also heard it was very difficult for English speakers to learn since the alphabet is illegible to us. I proceeded to get a 1.5 grade for three quarters in a row. I knew that if I wanted to learn I would have to go there, so I applied and barely (I guess they didn’t like my GPA(what’s not to like?!)) got accepted on a one-year overseas program.
That was the beginning of the long journey towards learning Japanese. It didn’t come easy to me, even though I have a good ear (I was a first tenor in a men’s octet in high school) and can do fabulous imitations of foreigners in English (you should hear my Arnold Schwarzenegger!). I don’t think it really gelled for me until the year 2000, when I got my first job as an IT guy and Japanese Interpreter. I had to interpret for 15 Japanese engineers every day. Very stressful. If I had to go back, by the way, I would highly recommend listening to the language tapes. I never did, but in 2008, when I moved to Italy for 2 years, I listened to the Italian mp3s and picked it up a lot faster. Anyway, my two cents …
In 2006, I got a job working for the U.S. Army in Japan and moved there with my 3 kids and wife. The most surprising thing about this experience was that my family all says they miss Japanese food the most! It’s not what you think, though. What they miss is the ramen, gyoza, fried rice, shabu shabu, sukiyaki, and yakiniku. Yes, they also enjoyed kaiten sushi, or the ‘sushi train’ as my kids dubbed it, where the sushi travels on a belt around the restaurant.
Now ramen is not what you think. In Japan, it is super fresh vegetables and meat in savory broth of soy, pork, beef, miso, etc. My favorite was tonkotsu ramen, which is a cloudy, thicker pork broth. Some of the best was permeated with red hot chili oil floating on the surface and many places have fresh garlic toes sitting on the table for you to crush into your soup. I was sweating and tearing up at some places because it was so spicy and delicious. The cruelest thing I ever did was take visitors to have amazing ramen, gyoza and fried rice, because, in my opinion, it just isn’t available anywhere in the U.S.
In conclusion, you really need a savvy guide in order to find the best bars and eateries or else you’ll end up in ‘traditional’ Japanese restaurants, in which the food is not very remarkable. More about Japan in future posts …
Part of the inspiration for my novel, Spires of Aurora, was a nature special show I saw on tv regarding the brown/black out we experienced back in 1996. My future wife and I were driving from Michigan to Boston and remember seeing aurora borealis. This was a first for many, I imagine, that far south. Any hue, I watched the special and was intrigued that, since that event, space weather had become a concern for the Department of Defense. The influx of ions from that coronal mass ejection (CME) brought down a fairly large chunk of our electrical grid.
Since that initial program, I have been interested in geomagnetic reversal, as well. Scientists believe that every couple hundred thousand years, the Earth’s magnetic poles flip. As you may know, the planet is shielded from the potentially destructive solar winds by its magnetic field. If and when the poles flip, the effects upon the Earth are largely unknown. How fast do they flip? What havoc will the solar winds reap? What would happen to the Earth’s inhabitants? All good fodder for science fiction
In my novel, the planet Aurora is an Earth-like place, but with a crumby protective magnetic field … or did the Earth simply drop its guard forsaking us all???