In The Name Of The Author

Lately I have encountered some people who are fellow artists and inevitably the conversations would turn to our work. The first topic of course is, for me, the lack of readership. The fact is my books are not commonly read and that’s mostly because I can’t afford to market them effectively enough to reach a larger reader base. After lamenting this, the person I’m talking to invariably asks if the work itself shouldn’t be the main focus and anything past that is just not that important. I have grown sick of this idea. I am a writer and yes, writing is a very important thing for me but isn’t enough. I admit that. It’s getting people to read my work that holds just as much importance. It’s not about vanity. I don’t expect people to read my stuff and go on about what a genius I am; although if that should happen, who am I to argue? It’s just the same with painters and singers. If their craft was enough for them, they would just paint for themselves or just sing for themselves, but they don’t. They post pictures of their paintings and upload videos of their singing or actually sing in public. Sharing their art with an audience is an essential part of the process. They aren’t doing it for glory or for worship by the masses. Creating something is just part of art. Another large part of it is sharing your work with others. It’s just like in life. It means more and is more precious when you share it with other people. I don’t like being made to feel like I’m some egotist just because I want people to read my books and scripts. I could sit in my room and write until the end of time. I could write piles of books and scripts  until the day I die and then be entombed in a hut made of those books and scripts, but what is the point of writing if your work is not shared with anyone else? Writing in itself is NOT enough, I’m sorry. It’s not. It’s like you keep loading your gun with bullets but never shoot it. The sharing of art is part of the artistic process. There is the artist and the audience. Two equal parts and one cannot exist without the other. The proof of that is museums. If art for the sake of art was such a thing, why do we have museums? Because it needs to be expressed as well as created. Art is like a living creature and  it needs to be appreciated. Being created and then thrown in a dark room never to be seen is like killing it.

That’s all I have to say about that.

Failure

Oh, the thoughts that run through my brain. It’s endless. Once upon a morning drive I was thinking about the status of my writing career. Something that’s on my mind a lot. I realize that I can’t do anything else. I hate every job I get. It’s not that they are  bad jobs, they just aren’t what I want to do. No job is. I want to be a writer. That’s all I want to be and I won’t apologize for that. I know there are millions out there with that same dream and I can’t say that my wishes are more or less important than theirs. I’m not talking about them. I’m talking about a singular vision and focus that I’ve never had in my life until I started writing.

I think the biggest tragedy over the failure of my writing is that I haven’t failed at it. I am a good writer. I have written scripts, novels, stage plays, commercials, short stories, ad copy, etc. and I have gotten enough feedback and reviews that tell me I am indeed good. I may not be the best, but I think if I had more of the world’s attention, I would be up among the top sellers. I want to be a writer and I am a good writer, but I am a failure and only because I failed at promoting.

I know that so many people say that today’s writers NEED to be promoters. I say bull$hit to that. Writers write and promoters promote. Sound like two different things to me. I am a writer. A  pure, old school writer. I write. I tell stories. I create characters. I plot. I scheme. After all of that work I am expected to take up the task of promoting as well? In case you haven’t ever looked into it, promoting is a whole over full time job and beyond. I just hate it that I am a failed writer not because I failed at writing, but because I failed at something I never wanted to do ever. I’m not a promoter. I never wanted to be one. It’s not who I am. It’s not a skill you can just  pick up. These people who promote are super skilled and are capable of things you can’t even imagine. New respect for them. It’s a thankless job, much like writing, and is not something just anyone can do. If I could afford to pay someone to do it for me, I would. Maybe one day I can learn enough to find some minor success but I doubt it. I’ve always been the one who gets ignored. I don’t have what one would call a magnetic personality. I’ve always been the ‘invisible man’. It seems no matter what I say no one hears. My numbers on FB are pathetic. I could say or write the most interesting/funny thing in the world and it would be like it never happened. If the universe is ignoring anyone, it would be me.

 

Words We Must Remove

There are some terms in our culture that I think need to be taken away and buried for the rest of time. These words make me die a little every time I see or hear them. I will be continuing this list over time because I haven’t bothered to list them all right now, but for now I’ll let’s start the ball rolling with:

Hack.
Okay. Hack. Now when I was a lad, that word was used in connection to people who would hack into computers and computer systems. That use is valid and fine. However today we have the term ‘Life Hack’ which has now been shortened to simply ‘Hack’. Figuring out that those Chinese food boxes can be unfolded to become plates for your food is not a hack! It’s just a little convenience that was discovered. You can’t go into ‘life’ and hack it. There are no shortcuts or tricks in life. You live it. There’s no coding for life. What is, is. Simple as that. Any little technique you discover to make one little bit of your life easier is NOT a hack. Martha Stewart was not sharing ‘hacks’ with us. She just had some advice to make your Christmas dinners more elegant. We must stop using this word at once! Or I may have to go to the other definition of hack that is more associated with hatchets.

E Publishing Taste Test

As most anyone can assume, I’m always trying to find new and better ways to market my books. This is not an easy task with the budget I have. The tools that are most precious to me are the ones that are simple and most importantly, free. I recently discovered an article about some of the leading E-publishing sites and discovered that the one that I am using, Amazon Kindle Direct, has a very narrow reach and I thought about experimenting with one with a wider reach. After this revelation, I decided to take the top contenders for a test drive. Here are my results:

Smashwords. The name caught me and what I read about them in the article sounded pretty good. I checked out the website and it seemed on the up and up. Overall, no complaints, until, you begin the publishing process. First, it’s advisable that you download their free style guide. It seems to be very important. My manuscript had already been formatted, so I was able to skim over a few chapters, but when I submitted my file, it came back with numerous errors. That’s fine. We’re all human. We make mistakes. The only problem was that they just tell you what the issue was (i.e. too many hard returns, indent issues). They fail to tell you where in the manuscript the error occurs. My file was 250 pages long. I was in no mood to scour through the whole document in search of these errors and I certainly was in no mood to tear down and re-format my book. No thanks. Another con I discovered was they don’t have a way to build a cover for your book on their site. For those of you out there with the tech to put one together on your own, kudos, but I’m on the budget end of this and I really don’t have the resources to put together a slick, eye catching book cover. This did not work out for me. Unpublish.

Lulu. Now, I’ve dealt with Lulu once before. They are the service I used when I first set off on this soul crushing endeavor. It’s a decent enough site. Easy upload of files and it offers cover creation. It runs a bit slow, so be patient. The cover creator can be kind of hit or miss, but it gets the job done. They now offer e-publishing services as well. I got my file uploaded and into the system, but the only drawback was I couldn’t get workable file out of it. I tried downloading a proof but it kept failing to open. I’m not putting this on them, just saying that after three consistent downloads, I couldn’t get it to open. I even tried opening it on the site. Nothing. Unpublish.

Wordtango. Ah, Wordtango. The last stop on this whirlwind tour. I can’t say too much about this site. It operates as it should, and one thing I did enjoy was if there’s an issue with your file, it will open in an editable window so you can fix the issues right there. It also features a cover creation section too. My issue was with the editing feature on their site. It would show me where the issues were and that was great. What wasn’t great was after fixing every issue, I would click the save button at the bottom of the screen. It would think for a few minutes and then come back, but lo and behold, all the fixes I put in were taken out and the manuscript was once more unable to move forward. I went through this three times. Unpublish.

So, back to Kindle I went. It may have a limited reach and I won’t be able to get my book on the Apple bookstore, but it works. It’s user friendly and it, so far as I’ve seen, has the best cover creator I have yet to experience. If you really know how to format your file to e-book specifications and can put together your own book cover, maybe some of these other services are for you, but for people like me who are still catching up with this tech, Kindle is by far less likely to make  you want to throw your computer up against the wall.

 

Link

Valentine’s Day

Just a couple days away and we once more celebrate the day of love. I’m not feeling it so much this year as this year I find myself back in the single scene, but I don’t want to get into that. Instead, I’m trying to move forward and have chosen to turn a negative into a positive. I want to urge all who read this to check out my book ‘Jason Of The Valley’ for this special day. At its core, it is a love story and while it may not be the next ‘Gone With The Wind’ I think it’s a fairly adept modern take on relationships and dating, sprinkled with a healthy dose of sex and lust. It’s available both in print and digitally and if you like the first book, there are more volumes to read as well.

The characters aren’t like so many characters in other books of this nature. They aren’t perfect. They are flawed, real people who deal with the ups and downs of dating as most people would. They fall and seek the strength to get back up.

Celebrate this year with a little gift for yourself.

New Books

New Book: Demon Hunters: Love & Fire

http://www.amazon.com/Demon-Hunters-Love-Fire-Volume/dp/1495280713/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1391578692&sr=8-2&keywords=Jason+K+Melby

ISBN:978-1495280719

First order of business, my new book, the fourth Demon Hunters book is out now. I was hoping to wait until Valentine’s Day to release it, but I just got a little impatient. I wanted to at least get it out during the ‘month of love’ because this one really is something of a love story. The story takes place six months after the events of the second book. I recap enough of the big points so you don’t have to read the second book, but I would highly advise you to do so, if you enjoy a good story. This story focuses on Jake’s personal relationships and I really don’t know how much I can say without giving away too much. Here are a few points. The angels of death and life and their forbidden love. French zombies. Possessed townsfolk and movie going monsters. Just a drop in the bucket in this newest volume of the Demon Hunters saga. Buy. Read. Tell your friends! (Really. Not kidding. Tell people about this.)

But the big news right now is the new book I’m putting together. It is part of the Demon Hunters saga, but not really. It’s a branch of the Demon Hunters tree. In this new book, I explore the age of enchantment and spin a tale that incorporates magic and mystery in a totally new way. This story hit me like a ton of bricks. I couldn’t believe I never thought of this before, but I’m glad I finally did. The elements came together so naturally, as though they were meant to be brought together. I want to tell you all about it, but I don’t because  this idea is SOOOOO good I don’t want to spoil it. I don’t even know if I can safely tease this. It’s just so great, I think it could be the one. This could be the idea that breaks through and it’s all mine! I can say that I am very near finishing the first draft and it’s feeling really good. I can’t predict when this will be released, but it’s looking like before March is a good guess. I will keep you tuned in to that, but in the mean time, head on over to Amazon, pop ‘Jason K. Melby’ in the search window and buy those books!

BTW, If anyone out there is or knows an agent of the literary variety, clue them in on me. Honestly I don’t like begging like this, but being in the position I’m in right now, I don’t have a lot of choice. I need to get known and I need it to happen fast. Help a guy out, okay? Pay it forward. I’ll be your bff. Swear!

 

I Hate February

That seems a bit harsh, I realize, but so far, it’s true. I mean, I know technically it’s still January, but in these final two days of the month, things are getting kind of shitty. First, no job leads all month. Lots of resumes, just no responses. Still no UI benefits. No big surprise there, but it still annoys me. I just got a 2 star review of Spectrum which  called it ‘slow’ and again the review claimed the main character was dim, but I’m still not seeing it. I don’t know where he comes off dumb, but whatever. I’m just upset that the 2 star thing brings my average rating down from a solid four stars to 3 and a quarter. That does not make me happy. My checking account is dwindling to nothing and the financial help I have secured will barely be enough because I’m getting slammed with my phone bill, car registration and rent all in one weekend, and after all that is done I have no idea what I’m going to do. My book sales have dried up and I’m still not figuring out how to crack into the mainstream media. I just can’t seem to get that door to open. The roofing  people who were doing work in the unit below me left a couple large pieces of equipment in my living room and it’s been a week and they still haven’t come to take them back. I’m trying not to let these things bug me because I believe in positivity attracting more positivity and I refuse to fall into the negativity net trap of the universe, but it’s hard not to when there’s just nothing good going on. No money. No job. No love. Just nothing. If my life were a movie, this would be the point just before the first big twist, but life isn’t a movie and my life seems to be an endless first act of a rom com. I’m wondering how long I have to suffer in this sphere of hell until I am granted passage up to the next level. You know, where I get to have the life I want. Here’s how I see it. I either have a great job I love or my writing takes off and is generating a good source of income so every morning I get up and get dressed up in some nice little ensemble and head out to either the office or a series of meetings with agents and publishers or movie execs. People respect me and I feel assured that my work is looked upon with value. I’m also seeing a great guy who loves to spend time with me. No games. No hang ups. We’re just two people who just enjoy each others company whether we’re going to a museum opening or just catching a cheesy horror film at the multiplex. Someone I can go to a fancy restaurant with as easily as a simple burger joint. When I go out shopping and I see something I want, I don’t have to soul search and pull up all my financials to see if I can afford to blow twenty bucks. I want to be where it seems everyone else is at. I want to start living my life instead of sitting here waiting for it to get started. I feel like I’ve been stuck on the bench for too long already and any longer it will be too late. There are people just out of college with more on their resume than I will ever have. I’m not prepared to be put out to pasture already. I don’t think I ever got my time in the meadow to begin with, and that’s not fair.

I believe everyone has a shot at that big win, but whether they take it or not decides their fate. All the sad unhappy people who drag themselves through their lives are the ones who blew it. The happy ones are the ones who saw the chance, took it and milked it for all it was worth. I’m just afraid my chance has already come, but I didn’t see it and now I’m just marking time with the foolish idea that I can rise above all of this, but instead I seem to just keep sinking lower and lower. I’m just going to keep sinking until I’m some stooped over old man, alone in some low income apartment building on the bad side of town who takes the bus everyday just to go to the grocery store and back just to do something. I am afraid of my future because I have no idea what it’s going to be, but if you asked me where it was headed and based on the evidence of my life so far, it’s not shaping up too great. I don’t want this. I reject all of this. I don’t want this life anymore. I just need the wind to change direction and I know it can all turn around, but it just won’t do it.

Wow. I really went off topic there, didn’t I? Ah, blogging. The next best thing to therapy. If you have read this and feel like helping out a little, I guess it would be nice if you could all run on over to Amazon.com and look up Spectrum by Jason K Melby and leave a good review. Lie if you have to. I’m not so  proud. Just a few five or four stars would be great.

thanks.