worse than mediocre – NY Times

A recent diatribe in response to a NY Times piece about Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program:

Although the article focused on the problems with Kindle Unlimited (which I agree is grossly unfair to self-published authors) what really stood out for me was the claim that the last few years have been a ‘golden age” for writers. In my opinion, for readers, it’s been anything but.

As more and more decide they can “write”, quality plummets. And if you have a large social media platform, the chances of your sloppy, abysmal work gaining a following, becoming a bestseller, and getting hundreds of “OMG, this is SO GOOD!!!!!!!!!!” five star reviews is great. Which enables really bad writers to continue putting out really bad books. What also happens is you have a whole generation of readers who are never exposed to truly great storytelling and interesting, unique characters, and potential writers who hold up this bad work as the standard to aspire to.

How is that a “golden age”?

I have no idea what Amazon will do with Kindle Unlimited. Truth is, I don’t think they care. What I’m more concerned with is returning to the time when books were good and hacks who were slightly worse than mediocre weren’t applauded and rewarded.

Jonathan Winn

author of Martuk the Holy: Proseuche

Novel of the Year?

With a strong handful of glowing reviews and having cracked the Top 100 of Horror on Amazon, do you think Martuk … the Holy: Proseuche could be considered a “Novel of the Year”?

If so, please consider taking a quick second to email

awards@thisishorror.co.uk

by November 28th with the subject line ‘This Is Horror Award Nominations 2014′ and nominate it for Novel of the Year. Just write them and say something quick like

Novel of the Year — Martuk … the Holy: Proseuche by Jonathan Winn

And then we’ll all sit back and cross our fingers, right? Right. ;)

Carpenter, Craven, Barker and me

I’ve been invited to join the TOC (Table of Contents) for the upcoming Horror 201: The Silver Scream. (2015)

I’ll be joining truly illustrious people like John Carpenter, Wes Craven, Clive Barker, … well, check out the list. I don’t know how Joe Mynhardt, the editor – who’s brilliant, by the way — does it, but, dang, he always manages to get an awesome line-up.

Oh, and me.

I’ll try not to embarrass myself. ;) 

Career Implosion in 5, 4, 3, 2 …

Writers need Readers. Period. End of story. They’re our bread and butter. As long as they One Click, flip the pages, and Rate and Review, we can write. They make what we do possible. And the interest — hopefully the continued interest — they show in our work affords us the LUXURY of doing what we do.

They should be treated with gratitude, respect, and, yes, patience.

If you’re lucky, if you’re VERY lucky, your readers will forge a relationship with you. Will feel they’re welcome to reach out with questions and praise. Will feel, on some level, that you CARE about them, sincerely, and that you APPRECIATE their interest and support. And if you’re very, very lucky, readers will enjoy your work so much that they want to see you succeed. Perhaps even have some kind of vested interest in seeing you do well. Will CELEBRATE with you as you do better and better. Will tell their friends about you. Urge their friends to buy your work and read it and review it.

And, my god, guys, that right there is the Holy Grail for writers. Really. Readers being so engaged that they, via the oh so powerful Word of Mouth, get out there, sing your praises, and, essentially, do your marketing for you.

But that’s a double-edged sword. 

When Readers become that engaged, they’re working with a narrative of Who You Are. Or, more accurately, Who They Believe You Are. A narrative you help create, by the way, with social media, quick emails, blog tours and interviews.

Now, if the narrative is good — Oh my god, Jonathan is so freakin’ cool. I love his work! — you’re golden. But if the narrative is bad — Wow, Jonathan is such a douchebag. I can’t stand that guy and wouldn’t read Proseuche if it was the last book on earth — it’s really, really, really bad.

Of course the narrative can change. If you’re going from Douchebag to Golden, congrats. Takes a lot of work, a lot of humility and apology, the repairing of an image and the forging of a lot of trust, but it can be done.

But what happens if you pull a Chelsea Cain (I refuse to link her because, as she herself said, you can Google it yourself), go on a social media rant about all the “inane” questions you get from readers and how you are, in essence, not the readers’ bitch, dig the hole deeper by being utterly unapologetic about how ungrateful you sound, and, in the space of an afternoon, completely change the narrative of Who You Are?

Well, you’re fucked.

Because, and this is something her Publisher gets that she still doesn’t, there are now a whole bunch of readers who have as an introduction to her this Angry Facebook Rant reeking of a sense of entitlement and a lack of gratitude. And who knows how many people who were familiar with her, who’d read her books, and were perhaps looking forward to the new one, have now decided NOT to One Click because, really, if she’s not going to appreciate their support, why should they?

Besides, there are so many OTHER authors to support. Authors who are nice. Who appreciate them. Who WANT their support. Who still NEED them.

Of course some will say Hey, people are talking about her and that’s a good thing.

But is it? Having people know you as someone who didn’t appreciate their readers — now, I’m not sure that’s how Miss Cain actually feels, but that’s the NARRATIVE that’s being discussed and lodging itself in the minds of readers — and who was generally unpleasant about the whole thing is somehow going to help her in the long run?

Let’s ask Faye Dunaway how well that works. (hint: not very well)

Point is, a history as a bestseller doesn’t exempt you from being gracious and polite. From APPRECIATING those who choose to One Click and show their support. And if their questions are REALLY that inane and troublesome, then get off your ass, set up an automated email response that addresses those most frequently asked — Hugh Howey has one that’s humorously apologetic for being “from a robot”, witty, engaging, sincere and, best of all, informative — and maybe update your website, showing the number of the book in the series instead of assuming readers will figure it out by reading the synopsis.

But, for god’s sake, if you’re feeling THAT stressed and THAT angry, turn Facebook off, close the computer, and WALK AWAY!!! 

Because bitching about your readers is one surefire way to completely screw up Who They Think You Are and implode a career in 5, 4, 3, 2 … 

 

help Martuk … the Film

Tomorrow. Sunday, the 24th of August. Mark the date. Tie a piece of string around your finger. Set your smartphone alarms. Do whatever you can to remember that date.

Why?

Because that’s when you’re buying my latest book Martuk … the Holy: Proseuche

Here’s the deal: I have a Studio circling the Martuk books, certain they’d transfer fantastically from book to film and, quite possibly, become a very successful tentpole franchise (i.e., a “tentpole” being a somewhat predictable summer moneymaker for the Studio). We’re talking marketing across different platforms: graphic novels, a possible TV series like Game of Thrones, and, of course, the films.

Problem is they need to see if there’s a market for what I do. If there’s an interest.

Now, before you say, Well, wouldn’t they look back at ALL the sales history to get a more accurate idea?, just let ME say that that’s what I thought, too. But I was wrong, or so I learned.

Listen, Studio Execs have enough on their plates without following my sales. They’ll look at THEIR calendars, see the conference call with that Martuk the Holy guy in, like, five minutes or something, and, out of curiosity more than anything, go over and see where the latest book is sitting in the rankings. That’s it.

Their focus is on story, character, who they can cast, who the potential audience is, etc and so on. Who I am and my sales are pretty far down on their list. Because they expect to build buzz around the book. A buzz they’ll orchestrate and control with their own goals and marketing in mind. So it doesn’t need to be a runaway bestseller to compete. It just needs to come to the table with some kind of respectable ranking the morning of our phone call.

And if the author can show he or she’s able to mobilize their social media strength into attention, support, interest and, perhaps, future ticket sales? Even better.

That’s where you come in –

On Sunday, August 24th, buy Proseuche. Head over to Amazon or B&N or what-have-you and One Click that puppy.

Please.

If I can go into this call on Monday the 25th armed with proof that there is, and could continue to be, interest, I could actually lock this deal down.

So, schedule your reminders, set your alarms, and tie those strings around your fingers. Sunday, August 24th.