Tag Archives: Tim Baker
I never gave much thought about becoming a professional musician. I always loved music and admired my older brother Skip and his bands, and playing at beach parties and with the Kingsmen was totally cool. Once I found out I was 4F and ineligible for military service though I did not know what would come next!
In December 1964, Peter Davey and I had just come home from spending 4 months riding around Europe on motorcycles. We had a blast of a time, met some great new friends and went places most tourists never go!
Starting in January 1965 I was enrolled in the Spring semester at the new Southampton College in the hills overlooking Shinnecock Bay on the south fork of Long Island. In our trip around Europe, Peter and I came across an incredible adventure where we got to see up close and personal the race cars in action that would soon put the Ford Motor Company at the pinnacle of auto racing success. That event sort of cemented in my mind the decision to go back to school and get my engineering degree in Automobile Design. That would not mean I had to give up playing in a band but the thought of joining up with other musicians to start a band with the sole goal of getting a hit record became further and further from my plans for the future. My brother Skip and Joe Butler my bandmates from the Kingsmen had started a new band and moved into New York City and were playing in Greenwich Village. I would not be able to join them and go to college at the same time. I had a great steady girlfriend Lynn Bishop who lived in Westhampton Beach and some local friends that I could join up with on occasion to play some local gigs out in the East End and I could still go to college. So that was my plan as I headed into New York City to pick up my motorcycle that had been shipped back from Spain just before Christmas 1964. I got to New York on a cold rainy day and didn’t go back out to Westhampton for 3 years. Oh I went back to collect my belongings and tell the college that I wouldn’t be attending that spring but in the space of about 3 or 4 days my whole world changed and it would never again be the same. It would be the summer of 1967 before I could take the time to rent a little beach house in E. Quogue, LI and spend more than a weekend there, and a designer of race cars I would never be!
While a major portion of my life has been my involvement in The Lovin’ Spoonful, I have gone on many adventures, before, during and ….well so far there is no after the band’s life yet. Finally I have, with the help and co-operation of one terrific person, Tony Moss, completed a book that encompasses much of what I have seen since my arrival at Jacksonville Naval Hospital, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina on September 23, 1943. So if you dare come on in and look around. It is just getting started, so expect changes.
IN 1970 I bought a 56′ sailboat and headed out for who knows where. After nearly 4 incredible years sailing the eastern Caribbean I returned to the States and resumed my life in the music business. I took over operation of a fabulous recording studio in Hunt Valley, MD and eventually moved it to a customized houseboat in Baltimore’s historic Inner Harbor. I began playing in a band again and as I adjusted to a life once more on shore a voice kept whispering in my ear “you need to write a book about all of this”. And so began the collection of notes and pictures and conversations with friends and associates that up to that point in time, 1977, comprised a full life by any standard. The Lovin’ Spoonful had effectively ceased to exist as a touring band and I thought I had found a comfortable niche wherein I could stay in music and make a living in Baltimore. Then came Christmas 1977 and everything changed. It was like I had started a new life very different from my old one but in many ways the same. What happens after Christmas 1977 until I make contact with my co-writer Tony Moss in 2009 could make an exciting book on its own. Essentially there are two life stories in one book. Writing it proved to be the very catharsis that I needed and I am very proud of it.
Thanks to Tim Baker, himself an Authors-Readers International Author and longtime online pal, I “met” Steve Boone when Tim interviewed him on his Surf 97.3 FM Friday evening radio program, making it possible for me to connect with Steve. Steve was promoting his new book at the time and talking about his life after the Spoonful. When he mentioned he had sailed for a number of years in the eastern Caribbean. I sent Tim a question to ask and Steve confirmed he had been to Bequia! After that interview, Steve sent me a signed copy of his book, which I loved reading … After all, Steve was one of the founding members of a musical group that was very important to many of us who grew up during the 60s – The Lovin! Spoonful! But the rest of Steve’s story itself was a real page-turner! I promoted Steve and his book on my Reading Recommendations blog, and have followed his career since the book’s story ended, as he’s continued to tour with the band, including gigs on cruise ships, his recording and performing with The Cherry Drops, hosting a Monday evening radio show on Surf 97.3 called “A Spoonful of Hits” and participating in a sold-out reunion concert in Feb. 2020 with original band mates from The Lovin’ Spoonful, Joe Butler and John Sebastian. (Links and information for all of this below.)
Hotter Than A Match Head: Life on the Run with The Lovin’ Spoonful
Steve Boone with Tony Moss
Steve Boone’s memoir comprises two nearly separate lives in one book with his role as a founding member of the Rock Hall of Fame band The Lovin” Spoonful as he charts it’s way from conception to now 50 years later, and his other life as a high seas pot smuggler with the drama of sinking boats and eluding Coast Guard interceptors.
For more information about Steve Boone, his music, and how to get a copy of his book, see his website.
Steve Boone’s radio show on Surf 97.3: “I plan on using a timeline of my life from the early 1950’s to today to show how popular music has evolved including of course my time in the Lovin’ Spoonful and beyond. You can tune in locally at 97.3 fm or streaming online. So tune in and comment or call me up at the station when I’m on live. I look forward to being on the airwaves each Monday night from 6 PM to 7 PM E.S.T.”
Here’s some information from Steve’s blog about life touring more recently with The Lovin’ Spoonful.
On Feb. 29, 2020, a benefit concert was organized that brought together the three remaining members of the original band of The Lovin’ Spoonful. The evening was a great success!
As well, Steve Boone has been playing bass and performing with the band The Cherry Drops. I promoted Vern Shank, the owner of radio station Surf 97.3, and his band on Listening Recommendations in Sept. 2014. Here’s their video of a recent recording of one of Steve Boone’s songs, “You Didn’t Have to be so Nice”:
Steve Boone was a guest previously on Reading Recommendations in Nov. 2014.
This is the third part of a series in which Authors I’ve promoted in the Authors-Readers International series tell Readers what they’ve been doing during these past few months of self-isolating … See the introduction to Part 1 for a further explanation. Here is the link to Part 2. (All links on the authors’ names will take you to their A-RI promotion.)
From an email sent in April: What a change since you were here in Calgary. The city has now virtually ground to a halt, the university is closed (even the library), and everyone is holding their breath about when the COVID-19 cases will go through the roof. So I am teaching on line, and trying to develop my skill with ZOOM. The students are distressed, but the university is doing all we can to get them through their year. But these last months will be tough. However, ZOOM brings all the students on line together, and all I have to do is be sure that I am twice as prepared as usual.
However, other constraints. No more travelling inside or outside of Canada until September, decrees the university, so all my trips are cancelled. I must say, Air Canada has been fantastic, even though they are taking an economic killing.
Trying to finish a book!
Aritha van Herk published an opinion piece in The Calgary Herald on April 9: COVID-19: The future is here, now we must be resilient, nimble and smart
Tim Baker has been working from home in Flagler Beach, Florida, since self-isolating began, and posts photos regularly of this new “office” and comments on the hijinx of all his co-workers …
Working from home – one of my co-workers is posting…
Working from home – it’s bring your child to work day.
Tim also wrote a blog post titled How I Spent My Corona Virus Isolation about finishing and editing his next novel.
And since his weekly Friday night radio show on Surf 97.3 had been on hiatus due to the virus lockdown, it was with great excitement that he and his co-DJ, Fizz Ed, returned to broadcasting again a couple of weeks ago, with the addition of in-studio video via Facebook! Well, there was great excitement here on our verandah on Bequia, at least, as we enjoy listening in every week. Dennis even managed to stay awake for most of the show … You can check out their Facebook page for past videos here, The Friday Night Music Extravaganza feat: Fizz Ed & Tim Baker, and tune in to listen to the station online here at Surf 97.3 every Friday evening from 7-10 ET.
Sheree Fitch has been busy doing a lot of readings of her books online. She created a video for the Halifax Public Library and a series of podcasts created for VoicEd Radio. (Scroll down that page for the complete list of podcasts.)
It was just announced that Sheree Fitch’s book, Everybody’s Different on Everybody Street, is among the finalits for the 2020 Atlantic Book Awards!
Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, Sheree had to keep her bookstore, Mable Murple’s Book Shoppe and Dreamery, closed for the time being. Here’s her explanation of that decision from Facebook:
(translated from Flemish)
Sometimes it takes years before a man some aspect of themselves begins to understand. And sometimes you need someone else to put you on the right track. In my very personal story The Flower-Woman Eating & Me, which appeared on page 50 of the May issue of Electric Press – Literary Insights Magazine reveals how confrontational it can be.
You can read a free digital version of the magazine through this link at ISSUU. Please be patient. Note: It does not load that fast.
(I asked Bob to send me photos of his horses to add to this update and here’s what he had to say about that …)
In attachment, you’ll find some pictures of the horses (beautiful) and me (ugly) J. The lockdown didn’t change much for Caroline and me. As you probably know, Caroline is an equitherapist, and I am the stable boy/groomer/dung remover/meal preparer. J
Although the corona quarantine only allowed one patient per day, we were very busy with repairs and upgrades of our summer and winter stables, paddocks, race-track, etc.
We used the extra time to bond even more with our four darlings: Bruja, aka The Queen, Tina aka The Red Rooster, Archimeda aka The Lady, and Amani, aka Prince of the Desert.
Now, things are slowly getting back to normal, over here in Belgium.
The pictures were confronting for me: it was very sunny, so I squint a lot. I’ve become a grey old man ravaged by bacterial arthritis. I haven’t been able to work out for more than two months now – all fitness centres are closed – and it is surprising – and frightening – to see how quickly one declines.
Or maybe, my ego is just too big, and I can’t accept that I will be 67 over two months J J J (You’re still oungr than I am, Bob, by almost a month!!)
I hope everything is alright in your “bubble.” (What a word they invented for all this social distancing).
And let’s pray for a better future.
All the very best,
Bob Van Laerhoven – Belgium / Flanders
Thanks for all you’re doing – especially in a pandemic! Hope you continue to stay healthy and safe in Bequia. I didn’t think I was getting much accomplished during these last few months but your note prompted me to reflect and, turns out, I got some stuff done. Granted, not the stuff that needs to be done like cleaning the closet in my office, but some other stuff. I don’t have any links to the info below…sorry…not very interactive, yet.
I’ve been a lucky person during these initial months of the pandemic because my main job is to stay home. No essential work being done by me! My work with Calgary Arts Development and other boards ramped up because many artists and arts organizations have been hard hit by the measures put in place to keep us safe from Covid19. I haven’t started any big new projects of my own, but I did successfully work on a few older stalled-out projects. I finished an essay about my piano playing, perhaps because I have been playing the piano more during this time. I’m now reworking an older essay about a unicycle. And I finished the edits for a story that will come out through Calgary’s Loft 112’s Long Lunch Quick Read series next month. I have a book review of Truth Be Told by retired SCC Chief Justice Beverly McLachlin coming out in the July/August issue of Alberta Views Magazine. Best of all, I signed a contract with University of Calgary Press (Brave and Brilliant imprint) for my new novella. I think it will be coming out in 2021 or 2022.
And, okay, the real highlight of my last few months is that a teeny story of mine will be printed on some Blindman Brewing beer cans this summer. Cheers!
It would be nice if I had somebody else to write it for me, but sadly I can’t afford such luxuries yet. I suppose I could have written it in the third person, talking about myself as if I were not me…but I am me so I just couldn’t do it.
Anyway, I was born and raised in Warwick, Rhode Island. I’m old enough to remember Get Smart, The Flintstones and Hogan’s Heroes when they were on in prime-time. I moved to Palm Coast, Florida in 2006 and I love it here. Before I moved, my older brother suggested I visit Florida in August to make sure I could handle the heat. I told him if I never have to hear the words “the high temperature today will be six” I can handle all the heat in the world.
I am the fifth child of seven, I have a sweet tooth (at least that’s what people tell me – I don’t see it, myself), I’m a Libra and I’m left-handed (all the great ones are!). My favorite movie is Jaws, I believe that Adam West is the ONLY Batman and I think shoes and neckties should be issued only as forms of corporal punishment.
I love music – all kinds of music. Having four older brothers, all teenagers during the sixties, I was raised listening to The Beatles. I was the only kid in the 3rd grade to know who Creedence Clearwater Revival and Jimi Hendrix were.
I am a lifetime member of Red Sox Nation (sort of mandatory if you’re a member of my family). I have played just about every sport you can play at some level or another. I hold a Black Belt in Kenpo (Nick Cerio’s Kenpo – Rest in Peace Professor Cerio) and I taught martial arts for two years before moving to Florida.
In 1992 I read a small article in the local paper about an organization called Guiding Eyes for the Blind looking for volunteer puppy raisers. It took me all of about 12 seconds to decide to call the number and for the next eight years I raised and socialized puppies as potential Guide Dogs (part of the story behind the “Blindogg” moniker).
I’ve always enjoyed reading and writing, but it wasn’t until 1988 that I actually tried to write something. It was a story called Full Circle and I managed to write about 15 chapters before I put it aside (temporarily).
About a year after I moved to Florida I had a dream about two old friends. It was, like most dreams, very bizarre. The next day I couldn’t get the dream out of my head…it was such a strange little vignette that I felt compelled to figure out “the rest of the story”. When I got home that night I sat down in front of the computer and began writing the story down. I began with the words “The whole thing started with a dream.”
Six or seven months later I had a first draft and after a year it was a completed manuscript, which would become my first novel, Living the Dream.
Before it was even published I began writing my second, Water Hazard, and I haven’t stopped since. I have even completed (re-written is probably a more accurate word) Full Circle!
This is the cover that attracted me to Tim Baker and his writing in the first place! I don’t know why it popped up in my newsfeed on Facebook – I’d never heard of this Florida-based author and we didn’t have any mutual friends online. It must have been kismet! I sent Tim a message about how much I liked the photo on the cover, that the book was obviously set in a tropical place – MY novel was set in a tropical place!! – and Tim accepted my friend request. What also interested me about Tim was that he was trying some different methods of publicizing and marketing his books, so we talked about that. Then he began his career as a DJ on Surf 97.3 Flagler Beach Radio and was co-hosting a weekly show on writing and writers. I was able to listen in online while living on Bequia (which was kind of cool at the time when you think of it) and I was hooked! That show didn’t last long, but it gave me the idea to create the blog Reading Recommendations to give (mainly indie) authors some much-needed promotion. Tim Baker was the second author I promoted on the site and he’s been back for many more visits since that time.
I’ve read (almost) everything Tim has written and published, and own just about every book in paperback editions (and even have a couple of promotional T-shirts and Blindogg Books stickers and beer koozies!). Tim’s books are in residence on both my Bequia and trailer bookshelves. I’ve been a beta-reader, and even at times an editor, for a number of his books and usually know ahead of time what he is working on at any given moment. Then when the new books are released, I help by promoting them online and recommending them to my friends in Canada. In turn, Tim has helped me with my own writing and publishing by sending me a “digital” swift kick in the butt whenever I procrastinate – which is far too often, I’m afraid. Possibly more important to me, however, is the connection we’ve had through music since he became a regular Friday night music DJ on Surf 97.3 and plays all the music Dennis and I love to hear. Many a Friday evening we’ve spend here on the verandah on Bequia listening to great music, while I chat with Our Own Personal DJ on Facebook, sending him requests, or making comments from the cheap seats. Cool, because he knows what we like! When he learned of my life-long love of the Beach Boys, as well as The Beatles and Van Morrison, Tim sent me this photo taken in the Surf studio …
My short story, Bequia Blues, was also included in the anthology, Path of a Bullet. Tim wrote short stories of his own then invited several of his friends to contribute. He edited and published this book of stories that all involve his main character, Ike! (In my story, Ike comes to Bequia!)
Tim Baker is also the only person I know who ever came up with this brilliantly unique way of “displaying” all his own favourite album covers – or CDs in this case. Pelican Floor Coatings of Flagler Beach created the coolest floor ever in Tim’s sunroom …
I would love to do something similar in my own trailer’s sunroom, but … with BOOK covers! What do you think, Pelican Floor Coatings? Are you up for a trip to Canada?
And here is what Tim Baker is up to right now: “Over the Xmas vacation I finally got my self back to work on finishing my latest WIP Rising Tide – I am hoping to have it to the editor in February which would mean a March or April release. I also have two more story ideas on tap and am going to make a concerted effort to release at least one of them in 2020 which would be the first time since 2012 that I released more than one book in a year.”
For more information about Tim Baker, his writing and books, and his music and DJing, please see his website and blog.
And … just like an end-of-year miracle, what appears but a brand new blog post from Tim Baker today!
Tim Baker has been featured many times on my blog Reading Recommendations since the first time in Nov. 2013.
WITHOUT spending any money!
I know, I know … finding the money to support authors by buying their books is not always easy. I have a hard time in that department myself.
However, there are many ways that Readers can help Authors of books they’ve already read and enjoyed. These ideas are every bit as valuable to Authors as actual sales can be – and they will cost you absolutely nothing to do. They just require an investment of your TIME, and your ENTHUSIASM to make things happen. Never underestimate what a READER of books can accomplish when they choose to champion a particular book or an Author.
So, here you go! 10 ways you can invest in Authors and Books without spending any money …
1. Borrow and read books from the library. Rate those books on the library’s system. Request that the library purchase other books by that same author. Encourage your friends to use the library. (And, don’t forget, most libraries are now online and offer eBooks for borrowing.)
NB Authors: Library patrons are the biggest group of buyers of books, so it’s definitely worth it to you to get your books into library systems …
2. Tell your friends whenever you discover a great book or a new Author. Post links to the Author’s website/Facebook page/Goodreads listing in your own social media. This does not need to be a full-blown review of the book, but just a shout-out to your friends that this was a great book. (If you’ve read a book that has really knocked off your reading socks, but you don’t want to write a full-blown review – and I can understand that many Readers don’t want to write reviews of what they read – then consider posting something brief to my new blog, What are you reading?.)
3. And speaking of that … Ask your friends the question, “What are you reading?” to start a conversation about books. Then you can easily slip in about what you’ve been reading. 🙂
4. When your favourite author announces the release of a new book or information about what they’ve been up to lately, do these simple things …
a) “Like” their blog post/status update/Tweet
b) Make a comment – something like: “Congratulations!” or “Can’t wait to read it!”
c) Reblog/share/retweet whatever the author has posted, with the added message to your followers that you are excited about this new book being released and that they may want to check it out, too.
d) Repeat however many number of times that the author posts updates.
(Most authors who use social media will be very aware of your engagement with what they post. You can’t imagine how much of a boost that will give them, knowing someone out there is eagerly awaiting their latest. And you can do all of this without ever seeming like a stalker … 😉 )
5. Become a champion of the author’s books. As I said above, recommend to your local library that they add the author’s books to their collection. You can also mention the author and their books to local bookstores, if the store is not already carrying copies. Don’t badger the store to stock the books, but do ask whether they would consider the possibility. And if there’s another local business that might carry a book because it has a local theme or the author is local then ask that store to consider the same. This idea works well for gift shops in tourist areas. (A friend recently arranged for my books to be sold in a Bequia hotel’s giftshop!)
6. Use Goodreads as a means of keeping track of what you read (and for rating those books), but also enter their giveaways. Then mention those giveaways to your friends by sharing the links on social media. (I have discovered many new-to-me books and authors by entering these Goodreads Giveaways – and I’ve created a number of my own giveaways for my books there, too. I’ve been fortunate in that, as a Reader, I’ve won a lot of books from the site. But I also keep track of titles for all contests entered on my “to-read” list and go through that from time-to-time to see what I may be able to borrow and read now.) Do not discount being a “stat” on Goodreads. I can’t be the only author who checks their stats on that site regularly; it definitely means a lot to me when I see an increase in the number of Readers who have added any of my three published books to their lists – yes, even when someone new simply adds one title to their “to-read” list. That’s yet another reader who has been attracted to what I have written, and that makes my heart sing every time!
7. Recommend to your book club that they consider reading and discussing your favourite Author’s book(s). Invite that author to speak to your club via Skype, if that’s a possibility.
8. Working with that Skype idea of the Author calling in to speak with a group, ask whether your local library or bookstore would be interested in setting up an event such as this. Let them deal directly with the Author on the logistics, but put a bug in their ears about the possibility for such an event. And then, if this idea actually does happen, help the venue to encourage interested Readers to attend!
9. If you write a blog, consider talking about the Author and their books there – even if the blog is not book-or-book-review-related. Interview the Author, or allow them to write a guest post. Your blog readers will thank you for your honesty in telling them about a new Author and a book you’ve enjoyed.
10. Contact the Author privately (usually their websites will offer a way of connecting) and tell them how much you enjoyed their writing and books. It’s one thing to receive a positive public comment from a Reader, but if you make the effort to tell that Author, one-on-one, what you really think about their writing and their books … Well!! I know I’m thrilled whenever anyone takes the time to compliment me! I usually ask that Reader if I may quote them, even anonymously if they so choose, because it’s wonderful to be able to share praise I receive with everyone else. Praise in a private email is so, so much better than in a public review! Because again – it’s honest and heartfelt!
So, all easy-peasy stuff to do that will be an “investment” into the Author and their writing, because it will all help that Author to grow their reader-base and, more importantly, to keep writing!
Just to prove that I practice what I preach here, and have done this for many, many, many years, in fact … Here are the links to the blogs I’ve set up:
reading recommendations reviewed
What are you reading?
Do it! Do it NOW! And you may begin by liking and sharing this blog post, telling other Readers how they may make a non-monetary investment in their own favourite Authors that will be much appreciated by both Readers and Authors alike!
SPREAD THE LOVE!!
(and on that note, here’s a little earworm for you …)
Tim Baker is a thriller/suspense writer, originally from Rhode Island, who now makes his home in Flagler Beach, Florida, where his series of nine novels is set. Tim is also a DJ on local Flagler Beach radio station, Surf 97.3, that we can pick up online here on Bequia – or anywhere else we happen to be in the world.
Tim was one of the first authors I promoted on my blog Reading Recommendations. And I’ve been reading and promoting his novels ever since. As he has done for me. (More importantly, he’s kicked my butt to keep me writing and publishing and I thanked him for that “encouragement” on the Acknowledgements page in my latest novel.)
Tim also shouts me out on his radio programs, mentioning that Dennis and I are listening from Bequia, and playing our favourite music.
I’ve had the great pleasure to beta-read several of Tim’s novels before they were published, and sometimes he even listens to my advice! I read Blood in the Water early last summer and offered my suggestions. Tim ePublished the book in September then printed copies shortly after that. I’ve been in the habit of ordering all print copies from Tim directly, so he signs them to me, and these books are now shelved between Jane Austen and Nick Bantock on the top shelf of my Wall of Words in the Bequia house. Tim offered to mail this new book to me on Bequia, since I’d already left Canada when it became available. I told him it likely would take forever to arrive/or never arrive at all, but I was surprised when the parcel was here within three weeks. Possibly a new record in mail delivery to this little corner of the Caribbean?
Anyway, once we did receive the book, Dennis claimed it to read next, since I had already read the book in beta format. Imagine my surprise when Dennis finished reading yesterday and said, “It was pretty neat that Tim mentioned Bequia in this book.”
Whaaa??? I said. Where was that?
He flipped through the end of the book and pointed to this exchange on p. 183:
“So what will you do now?” Val asked.
“There’s an island in the Grenadines called Bequia. I’m thinking of opening a dive shop there.”
“Sounds like a nice retirement plan,” Val said.
(Reprinted here with permission of the author!)
When I contacted Tim to tell him of our discovery, he said he’d added that after I had read the book as a little surprise. Not only was I surprised, but I was also quite chuffed with this new connection between Tim and me and the books we write.
Not that Tim’s characters haven’t already visited Bequia … In my contribution to Path of a Bullet, an anthology of short stories by Tim and writer-pals that he published in 2014, a few of Tim’s recurring characters, including Ike, visit the island of Bequia. Bequia Blues was written to bring Tim’s characters together in the setting where my novels take place. It was a lot of fun to write!
So … Did Dennis enjoy the book? Here’s his review:
“That was great!”
(He is an engineer, after all, and a man of few words, some of the time. Tim appreciated the comment when I told him.)
As for me, I thought this was the best novel of everything Tim has written – and I’ve enjoyed everything that I’ve read. But that was my conclusion long before our discovery of the mention in it of Bequia! Thanks, Tim! Now it’s the BEST BOOK EVER!!!
Well, maybe I exaggerate, but I do highly recommend this, as well as all of Tim’s books. Oh, and you can’t go wrong listening to Tim’s radio programs while you read, either …
In marketing, it’s said that a message must be repeated 7 times before people take action. Writers, here’s your #5 reminder …
I was going to write a blog post about social media and how I’ve been paring down my use of it, because I’m finding it to be not all that social or the best media for me at the moment. After discussing with a fellow author how disappointing Twitter is (and she cleverly described T. as “like a 4-lane highway at rush hour with cars bumper-to-bumper. It makes me nervous”), I realized what bothers me isn’t not being able to navigate and use Twitter properly, but more the barrage of Tweeps who constantly tweet: Look at me! Aren’t I clever! Buy my book!
Now I’m not saying that I don’t do some self-promotion on there, but I do try to balance that with tweets of value to others, including promoting fellow authors. And I also offer, up front in my profile, what I am prepared do for other Tweeps. Most authors who have been following me lately have just listed their “bestselling” book that was recently published (how can anything be bestselling if it’s just been released? I ask), and nothing at all as to what value they bring to me in my following them. I reached the 2000 following limit the other day, so I’m now winnowing out those guilty people and looking for Tweeps who are truly interesting.
I’m not all about the numbers, you see. I’d rather have fewer friends/followers I can truly count on with whom I can have an actual dialogue on Twitter and Facebook. And no one is holding a gun to my head forcing me to use either Twitter or Facebook. If I don’t like what’s going on there, I can always use them less or just drop out altogether. No point in complaining about them, really.
So that, in a nutshell is my rant about social media.
But this had me thinking about another blog post I published, first on Aug. 16th, 2013, then reblogged on Oct. 24, 2013, and which I believe is due for a reprise here, because this all needs to be said until authors do get it and start promoting more than just themselves …
I completed a sentence that had been posted by a writing-related Page on Facebook: What I like most about writing is …
I answered with, “when a reader enjoys what I’ve written,” because that’s why we all write in the first place. Right? So readers will read, and be affected by, what we’ve written. The bonus comes when they tell us this is the case. If that’s not why we write then we might as well just maintain locked journals and diaries. Or burn everything we write.
I was the first to reply to this, so it wasn’t until I went back to the Page a day later that I noticed mine was the only comment that took readers into consideration. For the rest of the people posting – and there were very many! – it was all about them.
When I write The End.
When my writing goes well for the day.
When I sell a lot of copies.
You get the picture. It scares me that so many writers are that self-centred they can’t see the real value to writing anything is to move, to entertain, to persuade, to get a reaction, and just have their writing read. (And it doesn’t matter here whether the reader actually purchased a copy, downloaded it for free, or borrowed your book from the library – as long as they’re reading. We’re not talking about making big bucks from writing and that that should be the reason we write, because I think everyone realizes there’s very little money to be made from writing books. And, if you don’t realize that then I have a bridge in Brooklyn I’d like to sell to you … )
I know the vast majority of those who posted in reply to that original sentence will become published authors, or most likely will become self-published authors. I’m a self-published author. Unfortunately, most of those commentors will become the brand of self-published author we’ve all come to know and despise – The Self-Promoting Self-Published Author You know the ones – they spam you and mention their book, and only their book, every chance they get, and wonder why no one is buying. They never seem to wonder why no one is reading; they’re only interested in the money they’re not making.
So we end up with articles like this by Michael Kozlowski on GoodEReader: Self-Published Authors Are Destroying Literature. ALL self-published authors are painted with the same brush, because too many are making nuisances of themselves. I have stopped following and friending any author who only talks about themselves and their own book in social media. I will not follow anyone whose Twitter bio is only about their own book and not about any of the benefits they can offer to me – like, that they’re a READER, or a librarian, or a bookseller or someone else with a vested interest in books in general.
Sure, I want to know you’re a writer, but I also want to know that you read and will promote books by other authors. I will be more inclined to look at your website, in that case, check out what you’ve written, and – here’s the clincher … Help you to promote that book of yours by telling my friends about it, if I enjoy reading what you’ve written.
Now we’ve come full circle as to why readers’ enjoyment in our writing should be of the utmost importance to all writers and authors. If readers like what they read they will share it with their friends. The very best promotion anyone can ever ask for is word-of-mouth, because it means our readers are endorsing us and want to share our work with their friends, and it’s not just us blowing our own horns all the time. Word-of-mouth is also the most flattering form of promotion, far better than any review in a newspaper most new readers will never see. And it gets rid of any perceived need to self-promote, ad nauseum.
This word-of-mouth business doesn’t just happen overnight, either, so I suggest that, along with restraint, writers and authors need to learn to be patient. I first published my eBook in Feb. 2012 and the print edition in June of that year, and I’m still finding new readers who haven’t previously heard of me or my book. But I’ve been quietly making connections here and there and one thing has been leading to another, so I’m very pleased with the readership base I’ve developed, and how many of those people have asked when the next book will be available. I keep writing, and I continue to publish the work of other writers and help them promote their work. And I’ve tried to do it in a way that, I hope, has been helpful to other writers/authors and their readers by not making it all about me and my book.
I’ve recently “met” online a couple of other self-published authors. (I read and enjoyed their books, wrote reviews, and heard back from them both. We’ve made a connection and are now discussing promoting and promotion and I believe some good things are going to be coming out of this that will benefit all of us.) I’ve made the suggestion to one of these authors that, if every writer/author out there were to help five others promote their work (so for every tweet about their own book they would tweet five times about five different authors) this would be a wonderful world! You must have read something recently that you want to talk about to everyone you know. Maybe you’ve discovered a new writer whose book you just couldn’t put down, or perhaps you have a writer friend who is struggling to get the word out, because they don’t have as many friends on Facebook as you do. It could also be an established author whose work you admire. Even established authors still need promotion, after all.
So I’m putting my money where my typing fingers are and am proposing to begin promoting five other authors myself. This was my business, after all, when I ran Alberta Books Canada. One of the authors I promoted then said that if I could find new readers for his writing he would be happy, so that became my mandate – finding new readers. At that time, I was working to promote many authors, primarily to libraries, and the authors paid me for displaying their books at conferences. What I propose now is to promote books by authors because it’s a good thing to do! If I promote these authors now, somewhere down the line someone else will promote my book. And all of this promotion will be done for free with no expectation of receiving anything in return. After all, what goes around, comes around. That’s Karma, man!
Please join me! (Readers, you too can get in on this idea …) If you know of a deserving book, tell your friends about it. Write a review, mention in your status update, Tweet about it. (As Tim Baker said in a recent blog post, Write a Review — Independent Authors Everywhere Will Thank You) Do that for five authors for a while. Then change over to another five authors. And continue. Your friends will be grateful for the reading recommendations. The authors will be grateful for the promotion.
And … it won’t be all about you any longer, so your friends will begin to return.
(Since Nov. 18, 2013, I have followed my own advice and began publishing a promotion blog, Reading Recommendations and a blog of reviews of Reading Recommendations-promoted Authors, reading recommendations reviewed. Check them out!)
Recently I read 5 self-published eBooks—all good books in their own way—but 4 of these suffered from “problems” that in my estimation could have been easily rectified. As it was, these problems were enough to diminish my satisfaction in reading what should have been very good books. Without mentioning the authors’ names or their book titles (except for the perfect book!), let me explain what I mean. (I did finish reading every book I list here, but with varying degrees of satisfaction.)
The first book is one I had known about for some time and had even beta-read material in advance to help the author organize and substantively edit in preparation for publication. I read a free Kindle edition. While I thoroughly enjoyed what was written—both the subject matter and the stories told (this was non-fiction about a particular time and place in the author’s life)—I realized that the author had not taken to heart anything of what I’d previously mentioned in my beta-read comments, in particular, getting a professional edit (and presumably the author did not pay attention to what others may have mentioned). The copy editing was poor to non-existent in places. The material was poorly organized and there was a great deal of repetition. I was disappointed in what could have been a very good book. The saving grace was the subject matter, which I thoroughly enjoyed.
The second book was the first foray into self-publishing for a long-time non-fiction author with a great many books traditionally, and successfully, published. I borrowed this eBook from the library, so it was an ePub version supplied through Overdrive. The book itself was perfect. Not one single editing problem that I could discern—not surprising, given the author’s background in having been an editor himself. The actual “problem” with this book was the poor formatting job done by whichever company prepared the eFiles for this author. (Their name was listed on the copyright page, but I have completely forgotten it now.) This may be difficult to explain if you have never read an eBook borrowed from a library. Usually, eBooks are divided into sections (generally chapters) and the number of pages in each section is shown (1 of 27) on the bottom right-hand corner, with the overall percentage of the book read tallied (1%) on the bottom left-hand corner. In the case of this eBook, every section had been formatted as though it were a separate book, so when I reached the end of a chapter the Overdrive reader told me I had finished reading the entire book and I was unable to “turn” the page to the next section. I had to keep going back to the Table of Contents each time I finished reading a section and click on the next chapter to open it. The Overdrive reader also didn’t automatically “bookmark” which section I had previously finished when I returned to reading again after shutting off the computer. So this caused a great deal of frustration to me, the reader, who was otherwise enjoying a perfectly fine book. And I felt sorry for the author who I know must have paid a pretty penny to have this book ePublished. I will tell the author of this problem, because I know him personally. I have no idea as to whether the same problem exists for the Kindle version.
The third book was a mystery/thriller I downloaded from Amazon for free. I had never heard of the author, but was attracted by the setting and story line, both of which were original to me. The author has since published three other novels in this series. This particular book I read was the first and originally published in 2011, presumably in eBook format only—the information is not given as to whether there is a print edition. The book began well-enough, but I quickly realized that a professional editor had never checked the MS before it was published. A few incorrect words had been used, but especially homonyms were used erroneously in many places (the word sounded as though it was correct when you read a sentence aloud). And these problems continued throughout, even increasing in the second half of the book. It was obvious to me that no one besides the author had read the manuscript before it was published. The sad part of all this is that the eBook was, as I mentioned, published in 2011—the author has had 5 years to correct all those mistakes!! As much as I wanted to read more stories about these particular characters set in this location, I’ll be steering clear of any more books by the author who obviously does not care about the quality of the work that’s put out there for readers to read.
(Really, it’s important to remember your readers, folks! Make your writing the very best it can be by producing quality work that doesn’t make your readers cringe. If you don’t care enough about us, why should you expect us to care about what you write?)
The fourth book I read was another free download from Amazon by an author I didn’t know previously. (There were horses on the cover. I was attracted to the book by those horses and that the book was a mystery in a western US setting.) It was a good book! I was pleasantly surprised, because it was actually listed as a religious book—a genre I likely would not have read, had it not been for those horses on the cover! And therein lies the problem with this book and why I’ve included it in this list: the genre selected actually limited the possible audience for the book. Yes, the characters were churchgoers and there was a tiny bit of praying, but the overall story itself, and the characters, were like a typical western written by Zane Grey or an episode of the old TV series, Bonanza. In fact, it was about as religious as either of those. No blaspheming but also no preaching or morals presented. Lot of horses, though! So I was more disappointed for the book than in it.
And the fifth of the self-published eBooks I read is an example of how good these books can be when the author does take care and produces a great book. While the book was originally written by this author a long time before eBooks ever became a Thing, he very wisely set aside the manuscript for more than a decade while he honed his craft and published a number of other novels first. When he hauled out this book again, he was able to work through and completely rewrite the story. Also, a number of friends, me included, offered to beta read, and … he listened to us! At least, I know he listened to some of my suggestions. Plus, he also paid for a professional edit of the manuscript. The result was near perfection! I read the finished eBook (Kindle version) and was delighted to see that the story now read very well, and I could count on one hand the number of copy editing mistakes and/or typos that remained in the text. The book? It’s Full Circle by Tim Baker! (I have already told him privately of my reading experience and congratulated him on creating a novel that was a pleasure to read. Great cover design, too, although no horses …)
So, after having read 5 very different eBooks by self-published authors, that’s my assessment. Some of you may think I’m being overly nit-picky in my reading, but I don’t believe I’m being any more critical than most average readers. The main difference is that I write to a blog so I can tell you whatever I think about various aspects of writing and publishing. And I’m an author myself. I think it’s up to every author to care about what they offer readers, and present them with the very best quality possible. As I mentioned above, if you care then your readers will care.
Since I first conceived of the idea for this blog post, I’ve also read a traditionally published print book written by an author who has a long career of successful books. You might think that a book like this, written by a name-author and published by one of the Big 5 publishing companies … and in a print format (so not quite that easy to correct), would have received a thorough editing/proofing session before publication. After all, editing and proofing are part of the publisher’s responsibilities (and expenses) and not up to the author to worry over, as is the case of self-published authors. Unfortunately, there were quite a number of errors in this book—missing words, missing punctuation, misspelling … I lost track. I know that the publisher is to blame for this shoddiness, but it still all reflects back on the author, doesn’t it? I know I wouldn’t be happy if a publisher thought so little of me that they didn’t do that last final check of the manuscript before printing. So it’s not just self-published authors who experience these problems incurred by publishing before their book is ready.
As carpenters like to say, Measure twice, cut once. It’s definitely worth taking that extra time of having another (professional) set of eyes go over your manuscript, or to consult with you on the structure, formatting, design or listing. Well worth it! Your readers will thank you by wanting to read more of what you write!
(And if you try to use the excuse that you can’t afford to pay what a professional edit will cost, well I say to you that you can’t afford to publish without one. If that’s the case, and the money is difficult (and I totally understand that it can be tough—it has been for me, too), then in that case you should wait to publish. Sorry to say, but this is the reality of the business. It’s just not worth it to put a half-baked loaf of bread out there and hope no one notices the still-doughy centre.)
Besides, you’ve got to love an editor—MY editor, as it happens!—who has an attitude like this!
Close to two years ago, I discovered that my eBooks, both of them, were being listed for sale on a site about which I’d never heard before. They were not under contract to sell my eBooks nor was I receiving any payment for the nearly 1000 times the site reported my novel had already been downloaded. There was a link on the site authors could write to, if they felt their copyright had been infringed. So I wrote, asked them to take down my books, and … nothing happened. That’s when I contacted my friend Tim Baker, whose books were also listed on the site, and he wrote this blog post about our experience. Many of our friends also took up the cause, sharing this blog post and following up with more information as they heard of it – good friends like Chris Graham who blogs as The Story Reading Ape, and has created a permanent warning on his own site about the problems of copyright infringement with information for all authors who find themselves in this situation. What we did learn since Tim first posted about the problem is that these sites aren’t so much about copyright infringement or “stealing” our books’ sales as they are “click farms” that gather identity information and credit card numbers from those unsuspecting readers who “click” on the site or authors who lodge a complaint.
Here we are, nearly two years later and, while we haven’t managed to rid ourselves of these “pirate” sites (because as soon as one is closed down, another pops up in its place) we do know that they are not the threat to our copyright we thought they were and they are not making money from our hard work, in the first place, of writing our books.
That’s no reason to become complacent, however, about the copyright we own for any intellectual property we’ve created, because if there’s a way to cheat an author (or anyone, for that matter) out of money due to them, there’s always someone out there willing to come up with a scheme to do so.
It was with great interest then that I read the following article about an Irish author who discovered her many-years out-of-print series of crime novels was being reissued, with different titles and slightly rewritten, by another author altogether – and that they were selling very well on Amazon! Please read The girl who stole my book: How Eilis O’Hanlon found out her crime novels were swiped by a stranger and then come back to read the rest of what I have to say.
Okay then … so my take on what happened to Eilis O’Hanlon is that this could be a much bigger operation than what she believes to be the case, and rather than this one thieving author, it’s actually an organized group preying on out-of-print books that they hope no one will notice have been copied and rereleased as something new. Maybe this is just the curse of my being a mystery writer speaking, and I tend to see conspiracies everywhere, but I can’t help but wonder if this isn’t more widespread a problem than we imagine. In the meantime, we may never know the extent that this kind of copyright infringement happens. It’s good to know, though, that Amazon will do something about this problem, once they are sure it’s true that an author is infringing on our copyright, and they’ll take them down completely. If it is a bigger operation overseeing this, it will only be a matter of time before more books appear on the site purporting to be new works by a different author who has been “created” and now publishes and sells these books that actually belong to someone else.
In the meantime, I’ve had my own brush with a situation of possible copyright infringement or, at least, the copying of my original idea and novel. I haven’t wanted to talk about this in public, hoping that the situation would go away and, for the most part, that has happened. But it still irks me someone has “stolen” my hard work I had in writing the novel in the first place. (And I have proof that I began writing my novel in 2001.) Fortunately, for me, I’ve been slow to finish writing the second book in my series, so this other author couldn’t possibly copy it as well, but he has continued on with my original premise for the series, it seems. And, to date, his books have not been sold here on Bequia in the bookstore. (Of course, not many of MY books have been sold through that bookstore, but that’s another matter …) I don’t believe this other series has had any impact on my sales or on my readership – which is actually more important to me. i.e. I’m not losing readers to this other series. And I still have people asking when my next book will be published (soon, I hope!) so I know I continue to maintain that fan base I worked so hard to build.
Isn’t it interesting, though, that on top of all the hard work we authors must put into writing, preparing, publishing, promoting, marketing, developing a readership, and getting on with the next book … we also have to worry about people who believe it’s okay to steal our ideas and our IP and benefit from them themselves. With nary a thought as to those, we authors, who created that IP in the first place. Very frustrating!
How about you? Have you encountered any similar situations as above, or do you know of other authors whose copyright has been infringed upon? Have you heard of any other scams out there that infringe upon an author’s rightful copyright?
In Oct. 2012 I had this cool idea to start up a kind of Fan Club for my novel, Island in the Clouds. I received “somewhat” of a reaction to that blog post … okay, so it wasn’t even close to being underwhelming, but I did have fun with the idea. Recently, my good pal and fellow author, Tim Baker, set up the beginning of his own Ike Fan Club when he published this blog post, Can I Put Your Name in My Books? – and that got me rooting around in the vaults again to look for my original post. (Which I wrote more than half a year before I ever “met” Tim online, by the way!) So here’s that original idea of mine, with a bit of rewriting to bring it up to date. Anyone want to join my club?
If you have read – and enjoyed! – my novel, Island in the Clouds either as an eBook or in print, you are already an official Islander, the new club I am creating. No need to register but do please consider taking part in these two promotions I set up. Send me a picture of my novel on your eReader or of you reading the print book in a particular place (either where you live, while you’re on holiday, or next to an identifiable landmark – for instance, I still don’t have a picture of my novel taken at the Leuty Lifeguard Station or the Water Works in Toronto’s Beach neighbourhood yet, hint, hint) and write a brief review or some comments about the book. I’ve been posting these photos to my blog on the dedicated page, Where/Who in the World is Reading Island in the Clouds??? and have plastered that link all over social media, and will continue to do so. If you’re camera shy, there’s no need for your face to be in the picture. See instructions on the links above and consider playing along! I thank you for taking part in this promotion.
But wait, there’s more! If you would like to promote Island in the Clouds on your own blog and perhaps give away copies in a contest, let’s talk! Or, if you wish to write a review but don’t have a venue to post it to, or you don’t like posting online on Amazon or Goodreads (and I understand your hesitation!), please send the review to me and I will post it, either on this blog or on reading recommendations reviewed. I will also promote any of your promotion efforts throughout my own network and on this blog. I’ll even consider “rewarding” those truly imaginative – and far-reaching and effective – promotions any of you create and execute.
Plus you will receive my undying love and affection for having supported my book!
The Islanders is intended to be a fun group! Think Mouseketeers with flowered shirts and fruity alcoholic beverages rather than mouse ears. I can’t guarantee free trips to Bequia for every club member, but there may be contests down the line that are open only to Islanders, and involving future publications. As I build an email contact list (I’ll be organizing an email newsletter sign-up shortly) of Islanders, I will notify you of these exclusive opportunities, as well as further information about my writing progress of the other novels, future publications from IslandCatEditions and IslandShorts, news and pictures from Bequia and other general stuff – although I promise never to overload your inbox! Membership does have its privileges though …
I do have one final request of all Islanders: The best way forward for any author to get the word out about their books is by word-of-mouth. We count on readers who have enjoyed our books to tell their friends and recommend they also read these books. I appreciate that you have taken the time to read my novel, and that many of you have already sent your comments, and compliments, about it, but I still need help with spreading the word to even more readers. So if you know anyone who would also enjoy this read, please consider telling them about it! Here are some other ways you might be able to help me with promotion: The Care and Feeding (and Promotion!) of Authors … and Part II.
Thanks, Everyone! Now, let’s have some fun!
(If you think I may not know that you’ve read the eBook or print edition, please send me an email susanmtoy (at) gmail so your name is included on the list.)
This is actually a “From the vaults” post, because I’m reblogging most of the original post, Announcing Tropical Fiction – a new genre, from Aug., 2013, with a few changes and an update, after discussing with Tim Baker again about how to best market novels like ours that are set in tropical climes. So, here goes …
I’ve had more than my fair share of ideas in my time – some great, some good, some worth forgetting (although we won’t tell my readers about those ideas, will we, Betty Jane?). No matter what the idea, though, I’ve always tended to think outside the box and come up with a new way of considering every matter at hand.
I was listening to Surf 97.3, Flagler Beach Radio on the Internet recently and the DJ kept talking about all the Trop Rock this station plays. It took me a moment, but then I realized he meant Tropical Rock, beach music – you know, The Beach Boys, Jan and Dean, Jimmy Buffet. And if this can be a category for music then why not …?
Take categorizing fiction, for instance. I have written and published one novel, Island in the Clouds, in a projected series set on the Caribbean island of Bequia, where Dennis and I own a home.
The setting itself is central to the novel. The story would never have been the same had I set it back in Calgary or Toronto or any other place I’ve lived. I know there are many other books like mine that are set in tropical climes and in which that setting becomes very important to the actual telling of the story.
So, I thought, what if we were to coin a new name for this genre? I came up with Tropical Fiction and, since it was my idea, after all, I’m going to stretch the parameters to include any writing set in-on-or-near, or written by an author who lives within proximity to, a beach. That way, I can include the books of my good buddy Tim Baker who, coincidentally, writes about Flagler Beach, FL, Home of Surf 97.3 for which he also now works as a DJ! (There’s even a beach on the cover of one of his novels, Unfinished Business, so he gets bonus points!) And W.K. Blais who lives near a beach in California. After all, what’s the point of having a great idea if you can’t spread around the benefits among your friends? (Since first writing this, I have created the promotion blog, Reading Recommendations, and have featured both Tim Baker and W.K. Blais there. And Betty Jane Hegerat for that matter, too!)
Here’s the complete description of my new genre:
Tropical Fiction – Set in the Tropics or Written by a Tropics-based Author – The Ultimate “Beach” Read
I particularly like the Ultimate Beach Read part, because what better reading material is there for enjoying a beach visit (or virtual visit) than a book about or set on a beach? I ask you!
A show of hands now … How many of you remember the novel The Beach by Alex Garland, set in Thailand? (I’m not talking about the movie, but the book.) This book fits very well into my new genre, this new category I’m developing. And how about Ernest Hemingway’s To Have and Have Not and The Old Man and the Sea. Or Agatha Christie’s A Caribbean Mystery, Shani Mootoo’s Cereus Blooms at Night and the writing of Dominican-born Jean Rhys. Can you think of any others? Please add the titles below in the comments section.
And let’s start bandying about this new genre classification, okay? I’d appreciate your help with getting the word out so this becomes an accepted name for the style of books that I write , and that many others have written – in the past, currently are writing, and will publish in the future.
Or … if you’ve written a book that fits into this category, please tell us about it, and you! Are you living in a tropical place and writing books? Tell us!! Please post a link below. I would eventually like to collect authors’ names and their titles, and will think of a way to list these links, possibly on a permanent page on this blog. That way, we can promote ALL of these books and this new genre of Tropical Fiction to the world!
And here’s the likely cover we’re going with for my next novel … that’s a photo taken by Dennis at least 20 years ago of Industry Beach on Bequia looking out towards the islands of Balliceaux and Battawia. This view still looks pretty much the same today. (Cover designed by Jenny Ryan!)
(I’d better get that second novel finished and published!!)