Friday, August 20, 2010

Life as a Writer So Far and a Lack of Whistling

I told my sister this morning that I was going to write about the grocery stores here in Mitaka but it is getting late and I still have to go out and buy something to go with my home made soba noodles. I’ll do a little more research while I’m at it and write about them next time.

It’s been five months since I left my job to dedicate myself to writing. I like what I do now and certainly enjoy the way I spend my time. Days actually go by very fast for me. I get started on a project like finding websites that have a similar interest or theme to my book’s theme and try to find out if I can get some visibility on the site. I’ve managed to do that on a few. Promotion is most of what writers do in the current book world.

Sometimes I just do an internet search on keywords about my theme and chase down leads through the results. Those chases have ended in receiving book reviews that were posted on the net. If you do a search in your favorite search engine and just enter my name (Mitch Davies – I noticed my name isn’t anywhere on my Zonajin blog page so there it is so you can copy it into you search engine) you will see it come up on the first page more than once. There are some other guys out there with the same name so be sure to click on the right one. The right Mitch Davies is the one related to book reviews and the title of my novel which is above the picture of the book’s cover on the top right of the page.

I decided I needed to get some publicity for this book and hopefully it carries over a bit for the next one so I did a search on book promotion. It took me a week or so to research all that showed up in the results. There are a lot of people out there doing it and I’m sure it’s part of the shake up in the publishing industry. Traditional publishers let a big chunk of there promotions staff and editing staffs go so many are in business for themselves.

I chose a publicity firm named, A Marketing Expert (AME), and they are putting together a campaign for my book. As a result I have very busy periods of preparing information for the campaign. Things like an author biography, an author questionnaire, guest blog articles and other background information to be sent to various media outlets on the internet. It’s an all electronic campaign. I may have to record an interview but it will be distributed as a podcast.

Next, I spend time at a few sites related to the publishing/book selling industry. It’s good to know what’s going on and what the predictions are for the future. Barnes and Noble, the huge bookstore chain, is up for sale. Does that mean the bookstore world as we know it is in for a big change the way Print-On-Demand (POD) printers changed the publishing industry?

And what about electronic books? Amazon’s Kindle, Barnes and Noble’s Nook, Apple’s iPad or, like what has been going on in Japan for a few years, even cell phones are going to make almost every book available electronically. As soon as I saw how the ebook business was going and how much reading an electronic book reader was like reading a book (I have a Nook), I started to research getting my book into all the electronic formats. It’s available in Kindle format now because Amazon was quick to get a conversion program up on its site. Barnes and Noble say their conversion program will be available this summer but I haven’t seen it yet. Conversion to the iPad format is available and I’ll be getting that done soon.

All of this takes up a good part of my day and any writer is going to be responsible for doing this sort of activity for themselves unless they are one of the mega-bestsellers who have a proven return on investment that their publisher can depend on.

It’s solitary work and new relationships are made online via information request forms and email. When telecommuting started to become popular all the sociologists were worried that people would feel isolated working from home. They advised companies to make sure they came to the office 2 days a week or alternated weeks working at home and in the office because people need other people. Ahh, it’s not so bad. Five months and I can tell you I’ve never once sat for hours staring blankly at the floor, rocking on the sofa with my arms wrapped around myself. I’ve got things to do.

I have made a new friend at the small Postal Annex business where I go to mail copies of my book to reviewers and here in Japan I’ve been going to the same two Izakayas (Japanese bars) and they recognize me now and we try to talk a bit.

I thought I would gain weight when I worked out of the house as well. I’d heard about the telecommute 10 pound bonus weight that people put on because they didn’t have co-workers watching them get snacks from the refrigerator when they work from home but, I haven't received my bonus yet. I get hunting down some kind of information and the next thing I know it’s past lunch time.

Another thing I’ve noticed is that I don’t use my car as much as I used to. When people asked me what I was going to do when I left the job I would tell them I was going to work on reducing my carbon footprint on the world. I guess I’m actually doing it and can take my tongue out of my cheek.

I like to sleep and I thought I might be in danger of falling back into my younger-day’s habit of staying up late and sleeping until noon but that hasn’t happened. The corporate world and its 8:00 o’clock start time ruined me. I still wake up about 7:00and I’m at the computer by 8:00. Here in Japan it’s the same but no alarm clock. They say as you get old you don’t sleep as much so I betting that’s what happened.

One thing I did noticed a few weeks ago is that I don’t whistle as much as I used to. I used to whistle so much that it annoyed people.

The first time I noticed this was in high school when I used to whistle softly through my teeth during class. I remember my chemistry teacher stopping his balancing of an equation on the chalkboard to ask me to stop whistling. I didn’t know I was doing it and stopped, only to be asked to stop again a few minutes later. It carried on into university. I went to meet my girlfriend (hard to define that relationship really) at her apartment and when I arrived she was in her bedroom so her roommate and the roommate’s visiting mother met me at the door. I was introduced to the mother and promptly walked across the room to watch out the window while I waited and began whistling as if they weren’t in the room. I didn’t realize I had been whistling until my girlfriend and I left the apartment and she made fun of the fact that I couldn’t control my whistling.

Through my working-in-a-business years I was often asked to stop whistling or I’d be whistling away at a tune and the next thing I knew someone else was whistling it too. The Gershwin tune that became the theme for United Airlines use to get them every time. Check to see if you have it running in your head a little later on, it’s catchy.

Now I don’t seem to whistle. At least I think I don’t. I don’t know if it’s because I spend so much time on the internet or concentrating on what I’m reading or just thinking. Because I didn’t know I was doing it and now I don’t notice that I’ve stopped doing it, I guess I don’t miss it. Or, there’s no one to annoy so it isn’t any fun anymore.

Well, now it’s too late to cook anything. By the time I get to the grocery store and back I would have talked myself out of cooking anyway so I’ll either buy a pre-made dinner, one of the most tempting aspects of the grocery store, or go visit one of my friendly izakays.

If you’re interested in reading an excerpt of my novel, A Wind In Montana, click on the picture of the cover of my book. Also, leave me your contact information and I’ll keep you posted on my second novel and even send you and excerpt from it.

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