Friday, May 29, 2009

Ghost Notes the Audio Book Sample Up!

Get ready for Ghost Notes in Audio Book!!! It's coming your way June 15th!!!

In case there was any doubt 80s music kicks ass:

Somebody get me that drummer's number.

Finally, I have some Ghost Notes audio for you.

After four months, I'm starting to see some light at the end of the tunnel. All of the words have been recorded and most of the chapters have been edited. Now all I have to do is finish editing, get the files mastered--which involves applying some compression, which, thank God, Mr. Hartley knows something about--chop the files up into 3-4 minute segments, and get the files to CDBaby, who will run the show from there. I'll be so glad when it's done and you can hear the whole thing.

But you don't have to wait to get a sample!

I've posted a snippet from the first chapter of Ghost Notes for your listening pleasure at my MySpace Audio page. Come on over and take a listen!

As you might imagine, it's a pleasure, and a bit surreal, to have your characters come to life in this way. I'm thrilled with the results, but I'd be curious to know what you think, especially if you've read Ghost Notes. Does it sound the way you thought it would? How does it compare to other audio books you've heard?

You are my core readers--yes, you--and I'd like to know your thoughts. So don't be shy. Leave a comment or shoot me an email/message.

Also, this sample is supposed to be available as a free download, but MySpace made a change recently to their layout and damned if I can figure out how to download. If you download it, please let me know.

And get ready for Ghost Notes the Audio Book, unabridged, in TWO WEEKS!

Yours in laying down the law,


Buy Ghost Notes

Buy Songs from Memory

Buy Stuck Outside of Phoenix

Friday, May 22, 2009

Ghost Notes the Audio Book will be Available Through...

Get ready for Ghost Notes in Audio Book!!! It's coming your way June 15th!!!

I've made a decision.

I've decided what company will distribute my audio book.

And the winner is....


I had a few other options, Snocap being the leader for much of the time, but I came to my senses this week.

You see, Snocap charges 20 cents per track per download, which means, if I were to track the book the way I want (3-4 minutes per track), they would charge me something like $12 per sale. That doesn't sound right to me.

So, I went with CDBaby, the Portland-based company that will allow me to track my book the right way.

But there is some downside to going with CDBaby.

With Snocap, I could have the tracks up and available to you within 24 hours of finishing them. CDBaby's process is a lot longer. It could take up to two months for them to get my audio book ready for you to download it. Considering I won't be finished with the project until right before its launch date of June 15th, that would push my launch date into August.

So, what does this mean? Is the audio book going to be late?


The digital download version won't come out for a couple of months after the release date, BUT I will be selling copies of the finished product at my Web site starting on June 15.

This will work just like buying a normal book from me. You'll place the order through Paypal, and I'll burn and mail you the discs. This way, you can still get Ghost Notes the Audio Book in time for that long trip this summer.

Doing it this way is really the best of both worlds for me. I get to arrange the audio book tracking the way I want, I get the best deal (which means I can pass the savings on to you), I can stay true to my launch date, and I can eventually have the audio book available at places like iTunes, which CDBaby administers as part of its digital package.

But we all have to wait a while for the digital download. You can bet I'll let you know when it's up.

And we can watch this in the meantime!

Yours in laying down the law,


Buy Ghost Notes

Buy Songs from Memory

Buy Stuck Outside of Phoenix

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Making of an Audio Book

Get ready for Ghost Notes in Audio Book!!! It's coming your way June 15th!!!

First, this:

I just wanted to touch base with all of my loyal readers about the audio book, which--as you've probably picked up somewhere--is coming out June 15. Audio books are a medium reserved primarily for traditional publishing companies, and then only for their biggest sellers. So how am I able to pull it off?

Four things have come together to create a perfect storm of audio book in Defunctland.

1) James Lorenz wanted to do it.

James is a voiceover artist who about three months ago posted on an online bulletin board, saying he wanted to get into audio books. I contacted him, and James, a former rocker himself, signed on instantly. When you hear his reading, you'll realize how lucky I am.

2) I'm self-published.

Being a self-published novelist is SOOO not ideal, but it has its consolations. Owning all of the rights to your book, like audio book rights, is one such advantage. When something like this falls into my lap, I'm free to pursue it.

3) I can edit myself.

Years of tinkering with software like ProTools and GarageBand puts me in a great position to edit my audio book. Ten or fifteen years ago, not so easy, for me and most others.

4) Digital distribution.

When the audio book is ready, there are options that will allow me to get it to you without spending thousands on printing hard copies. I haven't yet decided which company I'll go with, but a couple of options look tenable. Whatever allows me to charge you the least is going to get the nod.

There you have it, the anatomy of a self-published audio book. And you'll be able to download it for yourself FOUR WEEKS FROM TODAY.

I'd better get editing.

Yours in laying down the law,


Buy Ghost Notes

Buy Songs from Memory

Buy Stuck Outside of Phoenix

Saturday, May 9, 2009

(Self) Publishing in 2009

Get ready for Ghost Notes in Audio Book!!! It's coming your way June 15th!!!

It's been brewing for years, the discord currently surfacing between authors and literary agents.

For those of you who don't know, agents are the gatekeepers of the publishing industry. If you want to get a book published in the traditional publishing market, you do it, by and large, by getting an agent.

This job evolved necessarily out of publishers not wanting to read every manuscript or idea that came over their transoms. It's the agent's job to go through this mess of email and paper to find gems worthy of presentation to an editor at a publishing house.

By all accounts, it's a difficult job, one that has agents dealing with lots of disgruntled authors, who never seem to understand why their latest bit of brilliance doesn't merit the attention of a publishing house, or why their current published novel isn't getting reviewed, or why their glowingly reviewed novel isn't getting an adequate marketing push, or why their adequately pushed, glowingly reviewed novel isn't selling.

All of this agent-author discontent has surfaced lately on agents' blogs, often rolling into the comments sections.

In short, there are lots of anonymous and not-so-anonymous authors flaming agents for one egregious sin or other.

What strikes me about this current dust-up is that both sides seem to be ignoring the real problem.

The reason life has become more difficult for many of these folks is the declining interest in fiction in general--and non-genre fiction in particular--a side effect of a decline in book reading over the last few decades.

As fiction readers disappear, money dries up at the publishing houses and they narrow the scope of what they are willing to take on, which narrows the scope of their list.

In other words, if you don't write in an established (money-making) genre, your novel had better be undeniably good (and marketable) if you want it published.

It's gotten so bad I've contended that many Nobel laureates--Faulkner, Bellow, etc.--probably wouldn't have gotten their first or even second novels published in the current traditional publishing environment.

In 2009, no one in the industry seems to want writers who need nurturing. They want you to show up on their doorsteps fully formed. It's a business, after all, and while everyone in publishing loves literature, they're not going to endanger their careers because you, writers, need to be validated for your hard work by a traditional publishing house. They need a pretty good reason (the hope of making you both money) to go out on a limb for you.

Writers, on the other hand, dedicate years to their craft, often sacrifice tens of thousands of dollars for graduate school, get up early, stay up late, put up with family members who scoff at them for "playing writer," expend thousands of hours of leisure time plugging away at their works-in-progress in the hope of one day publishing at a reputable house for enough money to allow them to quit their day jobs.

You can see why there might be some tension between these two groups.

I think some of the tension can be alleviated by one simple thing.

Agents, through blogs, correspondences, and appearances at writing conferences, have the ears of many--maybe most--prospective writers, and I think they do a fantastic job emphasizing the fundamentals of writing for publication. I'd sum their spiel up as follows:

"Work on your writing for years. When you feel it's ready, get involved in some kind of writing group and get many opinions of your book. Take the criticism to heart. Rewrite your book, hone your craft, keep making it better and better. Then, when your book is as good as it can be, research the industry well, spend a great deal of time writing a sparkling query letter and submit your project to any agent you feel might have an interest in it."

Great advice, no doubt, but they usually follow up with this:

"And if all of that fails, put that novel in a drawer and get started on your next one."


Here's another option:

"And if all of that fails, spend as little money as you can self-publishing your work, giving yourself a taste of what it's like to be a published author, while you work on your next book."

Authors who dedicate much time and effort to works-in-progress can benefit greatly from self-publishing their books. First of all, they get to see their books in print, which most authors will admit is one of the great pleasures of the writing life. After that much time dedicated to their craft, getting this little reward is the perfect way to celebrate. It also might help lower the blood pressure of many an aspiring writer, keeping their Internet frustration to a minimum.

Moreover, the author gets a chance to see on a micro level what life is like for a published writer. They get to see, for example, how difficult it is to get people interested in a new author's work, how difficult the proofreader's and cover designer's jobs are, what it takes to get a review in the local paper or a reading at a local bookstore, how many book sales said review or reading might yield, what it takes to turn merely one new reader on to your work.

These authors might decide that the writing and publishing life isn't for them and move on to something else, thereby getting them out of the queue and off agents' backs.

Others writers might cultivate a deeper appreciation of writing and publishing and try even harder with their next book. These authors, who later may move into traditional publishing, are sure to be understanding when the New York Times doesn't want to review their novels, or not freaking out when they find a typo, or when their first week's sales numbers don't rival J.K. Rowling's.

And unlike traditional publishing houses--which are no longer run by pipe smokers in double-breasted suits but by shareholders with double-digit growth expectations--self-published authors take risks. They publish outside of genre, think outside the box and try hard to reach non-traditional audiences. Getting the best of them in the book-selling trenches might be a great way to foster fledgling markets.

Finally, a self-publisher relinquishes no book rights. In other words, when a previously self-published author's next novel sells nine million copies, an agent can always take that early work back to the traditional market. No harm, no foul.

The consolation prize of 21st Century publishing is that traditional and self-publishing need not be seen as an either/or choice, any more than playing in the minor leagues would forfeit a player's shot at the majors. Agents would be wise to embrace this new era of cheap, easy self-publishing to their own ends, if only to reduce the amount of angst coming at them from authors who are supposed to wait forever for an industry that, frankly, may never come to them.

Yours in laying down the law,


Buy Ghost Notes

Buy Songs from Memory

Buy Stuck Outside of Phoenix

Friday, May 1, 2009

I'm 40 Today.

Get ready for Ghost Notes in Audio Book!!! It's coming your way June 15th!!!

Yes, as of today, I'm old.

I've never had much of a hang-up with the idea of being 40. I've always held fast to the notion that I'd peak--whatever that means--at 45. The rest of my life is just screw-around time. Hell, I've got five years before I have to straighten up.

In recognition of my 40th birthday, I'm passing along another nugget to you for your aural pleasure. This one is another live cut from my show at Eddie's Attic in Atlanta last year. Shalom, soundman extraordinaire, had our trio dialed in but good that night, and Mr. Hartley doctored the recording a little to make it sound even better. Come hear a live version of "I Don't Know Right Now" at my MySpace Audio page, where you'll find lots of other stuff, too. You'll be glad you did.

Also, I've booked another Portland gig! I will once again play the Twin Paradox coffee house in Sellwood, this time on a weekend night, Friday, June 12th, from 8 to 10 PM. This is an all-originals show; I'll play pretty much everything I know that isn't a cover. Mark your calendars now for Friday, June 12th, from 8 to 10 PM. Free show!

Finally, I'm hoping to find someone who'd like to accompany me for this gig. It can be any second instrument. Another guitarist is the obvious choice, but it doesn't have to be. If you know of someone in the Portland area who might be good at adding a little melody to my songs, please let me know at ae[at]

That's it for me. I'm off to Ashland to enjoy plays, hiking and food. Yes, life after 40 isn't so bad.

Yours in laying down the law,


Buy Ghost Notes

Buy Songs from Memory

Buy Stuck Outside of Phoenix