You Just Can’t Beat Originality

Somewhere, under the Natural Bridge, there's a bestseller. (Monte Dutton photo)
Somewhere, under the Natural Bridge, there’s a bestseller. (Monte Dutton photo)

I’m learning slowly in spite of myself.

I made some mistakes and wasted some money while trying to sell my second novel, The Intangibles.

I learned that book reviews you pay for don’t do much good because most of the people who write them don’t read the book and go through the motions. The reviews don’t ring true, and the people who read them probably think that’s the way your book’s going to be.

Monte Dutton
Monte Dutton

It’s hard. The Intangibles is set in South Carolina, and the newspapers didn’t care much about it because they don’t have book reviewers on their staffs anymore, or the same person is reviewing books, music, theater, and, quite possibly, real estate and new cars, so mainly the newspaper, if it reviews books at all, runs what the Associated Press disseminates about bestsellers, and the writer at the paper, if he reviews any books at all, is probably going to review one of those bestsellers himself.

The story about the self-published novel that sells a million copies and is soon to be “a major motion picture” may be true, but people also win lotteries and the Publishers Clearing House.

They do, right?

Not I, of course. Oh, wait. I did get a check for $12.83 from the Publishers Clearing House about a month ago.

Things are getting a little better. I’m trying to get my third novel, Crazy of Natural Causes, published, and I’m working on a fourth, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, and the first two, The Audacity of Dope and The Intangibles, are bumping along out there. One of these days, a novel of mine is going to hit it big, and when it does, the previous ones are going to ride up the charts because people are going to want to read what they missed earlier. That’s when I’m going to become an overnight sensation.

Right after I deposit that Powerball check. (I’ve got to remember to buy a ticket from time to time.)

On the other hand, I might die penniless. That seems to happen a lot with writers.

I've spent too much time quacking about my books. (Monte Dutton photo)
I’ve spent too much time quacking about my books. (Monte Dutton photo)

The trouble with the popular wisdom is that it doesn’t work by the time everyone gets it. It’s all a big TV commercial. If you see Fred Thompson telling you all about a reverse mortgage, it means that the rich folks have already made theirs, and now they want some of yours. It’s the same when G. Gordon Liddy tells you to buy gold. His employer has some to spare, and he knows that, if he can pass it off, he’ll clean a little glistening money from the rubes, who, self-evidently, don’t know what to do with it.

When I wrote The Audacity of Dope, I came up with the yarn about a pot-smoking anti-hero and songwriter because I could see the world changing, and I had just written a non-fiction book about musicians, True to the Roots: Americana Music Revealed, and I created a character named Riley Mansfield to lead me through it.

It may have been a little before its time. Most of the readers loved it. I just need more of them. The same is true of The Intangibles, which is a vastly different story, set in 1968 and dealing with civil rights, integration, and my need to remind young people that the world has had worse problems than the current ones. I thought the folks here in Clinton would want to read it because the town in the novel, Fairmont, is similar enough that some people might think they were the same place, but I was wrong.

My hometown is more interested in land-use planning than The Intangibles.

The pieces of the pies are forever getting smaller.

I’m sure the first struggling author who went slap Twitter crazy reaped a powerful dividend, but when every author is posting the same message and the same link four times a day for month after month, it reaches the point where the “followers” thumb through their feeds and make that familiar tweet … a blur.

I'm hoping the publishers will start biting. (Monte Dutton sketch)
I’m hoping the publishers will start biting. (Monte Dutton sketch)

I never posted the same information over and over, but I did post links to my books, my blogs, and, occasionally, my songs, over and over. Recently I decided to back off. Post them a couple times a day for a couple days. If there has been a drop-off in clicks/hits, it hasn’t been discernible.

Even though there’s no substitute for origjnality, it seems as if everyone relies on the advice of someone else, who invariably advises iexactly what a thousand others are advising.

Meanwhile, the slices in the pie get so minuscule that the lemon meringue isn’t even fattening.

I’ve just about decided, for better or worse, that I’m going to try to sell my books via my judgment. Even if it doesn’t work, it won’t cost as much.

              Naturally, based on the opinions above, you shouldn’t follow my advice. What I’d rather you do is buy one of my books here, and make up your own mind about whether or not my novels deserve to be published:

              Crazy of Natural Causes is up for publication at KindleScout, and it only takes this click and one more for you to nominate it:


3 thoughts on “You Just Can’t Beat Originality

  1. I spend factor much time on facebook, so I click “Like” the first time I see a post from you. I do not “Like” them on subsequent appearances. Hope that fits into your plan.

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