the feel of the page

I grew up on books, my youth spent quite literally in my bedroom reading or wandering for countless hours in the teeny tiny library tucked in the middle of my teeny tiny town. In fact, even today, decades later, I could sit down, put pen to paper, and draw a fairly accurate map of the space, down to where my favorite books were often found.

With the rapid rise of ebooks, though, there’s a whole generation somewhat unaware of the feel of the page. Perhaps even unfamiliar with the clean, somewhat inky smell that greets you when you open a new book and see Chapter One, the pale paper still somewhat stiff and crisp as you turn the page.

In a land of digital and laptops, iPhones and blogs, ebooks and Word DOCS, how often do we really take a book off the shelf, crack it open, and dive in? Speaking from personal experience, and with a hint of embarrassment, I can say not often.

So, I’m biting the proverbial bullet and formatting my ebook version of Martuk … The Holy — and the incomparable A.M. Schultz is generously reworking the cover — for a print version via CreateSpace.

Although I was and am very eager to embrace the changes sweeping the Publishing Industry, the child in me who fed his budding imagination and stumbling creativity with dog-eared paperbacks and hefty hardcovers still yearns to hold Martuk in my hands and, yes, turn the pages. And I think, somewhat optimistically, how nice it might be for some kid tucked away in his or her bedroom on the outskirts of his or her own teeny tiny town to hold this book of ancient magic and immortality and wanderings through the rainy streets of modern Paris in their hands and lose themselves, as I often did, for hours.

I am beyond excited about this new development.

Expect an announcement on when it’ll be available within a month or two.

*happy dance* (^~^)

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“get over it and write”

A quick glimpse at an interview I recently gave:

… write your words unapologetically. Don’t worry about people liking it or wanting to read it. I guarantee you someone out there will hate it and think it’s worthless drivel. But someone else will love it and it might even change someone’s life. You have no control over how it will be received, so get over it and write. A lot.

… and a very brief snippet from a new review for The Wounded King

The Wounded King: The Martuk Series is a story that will grasp readers from the start. Jonathan’s masterful combination of words to create potent images into the minds of his readers is exceedingly entrancing.

Enjoy!

dancing unicorns of hope

A friend of mine, seeing how “easy” it was for me to publish a few books, has decided that THEY now want to jump in the game and, I don’t know, write something. (their words, not mine)

Now, I’m a supportive, encouraging friend even if I’m not at all confident this will actually happen. And I’d love to be something of a guide to this person. Steer them away from the mistakes I made and maybe make the transition from fantasy to reality a little easier. Perhaps prepare them in some way for what waits after they click Publish and their baby goes Live.

But they are SO not open to hearing any of that. They’re convinced they’re unleashing the next 50 Shades of Grey and will most definitely get 10,000 sales a day and soon be supping with Spielberg, so …

I’ll just go ahead and tell YOU.

As a self-published Author without a strong platform (read: blog that’s a few years old and has massive traffic i.e., a built-in fan base), your first month will probably be your best.

Why?

That’s when friends and family and friends of friends and friends of family and coworkers and friends of coworkers and so on and so forth and whatnot will buy your book.

And that’s it.

You see, the second month, when everyone you know already has you locked and loaded on their Kindle (which they may or may not read), that’s when the reality of what you face hits you. And unless you’ve already laid the groundwork via your blog (see above) or other blogs (a process that, if done with sincerity, can take many months), no one will know you exist. And if you don’t exist, how do you sell books?

Reviews.

Reviews from your built-in fans (family and friends) come almost right away. They rave, they weep, they insist this is the best thing since sliced bread and you HAVE to buy it. And savvy ebook buyers tend to discount them just as quickly. The reviews that matter are from well-known reviewers on well-known blogs who, like it or not, are going to be honest. If your book sucks, you’ll hear about it and it can hurt not only your bottom line, but your career as well. If they love it, you’ll see sales pick up.

Now, to get those reviews.

It can take months. Even upwards of a year. Or more.

Bitter pill to swallow? Yep. But don’t you think knowing stuff like this would be helpful if you’re just starting out? That the minimal sales you see as a new author are the same for practically every other new author? And that most books don’t find their rhythm or readership for at least the first six months? And that’s if it’s strong work that’s smartly promoted?

Don’t you believe it SHOULD be common knowledge that the work in getting your book noticed is an ongoing, laborious, lengthy process holding no guarantee of success? And, let’s face it, it’d be a HUGE help knowing that the interest of those closest to you peaks in the beginning and then, after that, becomes polite support. That’s a good thing to understand, don’t you think?

Of course. Or at least I think it would. And I haven’t even touched on promotion via excerpts and guest blogging and Twitter and Facebook and blah blah blah blah blah.

So, for you writers out there gearing up to begin your self-publishing journey, I hope you find the above useful.

It’s not offered to prick your balloons or throw cold water on your dreams or suffocate your prancing, dancing unicorns of hope. It’s simply out there so can be prepared and understand what’s happening instead of believing it’s because you suck and your book sucks and no one cares.

It’s a business, this publishing thing, and the more you know going in, the better off you’ll be.

So consider this your friendly reality check.

(^~^)

fingers crossed

It’s been a long time since I’ve read for pleasure.

You see, most, if not all, of my reading is research.

For Martuk it was learning as much as I could about the ancient city of Uruk, the polytheistic religious beliefs of the time, and then, generations later, the world that was 1st century Jerusalem. Not only the brief rise of a soon-to-be crucified Messiah, but the politics, the government, the reality one finds in histories that aren’t Christian-based.

For Martuk … The Holy: Proseuche, the upcoming sequel to Martuk, I’m immersed in the sometimes shocking violence of 4th and 5th century Christianity. Bishops plotting and killing and destroying the lives of other Bishops. And the Pope, the most powerful man in the world at the time, always involved, forever scheming. Emperors claiming the Christian faith while still practicing their polytheistic religions and ancient magic, especially in Constantinople or, as it was called then, New Rome — much to the lingering resentment of that lumbering, wounded, dying beast Rome.

And, of course, all of this happening while the Christian world broke in two, the true Nature of Christ debated with swords and armies, a Priest threatened with death if he called the Virgin Mary Theotokos (aka God-Bearer), the East soon breaking away and remaining Orthodox, the West going on to become the Christian religion we recognize today.

And Jerusalem going from a forgotten slum to a haven for Christian tourists, stall after stall offering splinters from the “real cross” and other trinkets.

It was a fascinating, historic time.

And it makes for fascinating reading. I love it. And it gives an unusual weight to my work. A weight I believe my stories deserve. The need I have to wrap my characters in these rich histories, giving them historically accurate roads to walk while talking to historically accurate people, being too strong NOT to dot my “i”s and cross my “t”s.

But there are times, I’ve been told, when you gotta close those big books, give the brain a rest, and dig into a really good read. Fiction. Spooky. Expertly written.

And instead of dusting off one of my favorites and wandering down yet another enjoyable, though familiar, path, I’ve decided to read something new from someone new.

I mean, the author has a very long, very successful career, so he’s hardly “new”. But he is to me.

So, as silly as this sounds, I’m a little excited. It feels like that moment when you organize the desk, leave a voicemail greeting explaining you’ll be out for the next two weeks, go down the elevator, give a friendly wave to the Security Desk, and leave the building, finally AT LAST on vacation.

Now let’s just hope my work-a-holic nature will let me have a brief break and enjoy a good book.

Fingers crossed.