MUSINGS OF A STORY MERCHANT
For Every Author Who Wants To Make Their Dreams Come True And Finish Writing Their Book! ...
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
The Thrillionaires Inspirational Movie
Every now and then, it's good to get some inspiration. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
Monday, September 28, 2009
Sunday, September 27, 2009
CBS Television Distribution has achieved 95% clearance of "Smash Cuts," a series that will amass viral short videos taken from the Internet, in time for a planned launch the week of Sept. 27.
Designed for weekend viewing in back-to-back half-hour episodes, "Smash" has been sold in every top-30 market to Tribune, CBS and CW station groups, airing primarily on CW affiliates including KTLA Los Angeles and WPIX New York.
In addition to amateur content, "Smash" will showcase new professional short vids as well as past clips from the CBS TV Distribution library. Affiliate stations will also have destinations on their own websites for local viewers to submit their own content for consideration.
David Garfinkle and Jay Renfroe of Renegade 83 ("Blind Date") are exec producing. Renegade83.com
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Join Mark Victor Hansen, Rick Frishman, Ken Atchity, David Hancock, Alex Carroll, and more... (read more below to see why you won't want to miss what they have to share with you)
Are you curious about what publishers like Harper Collins, Morgan James, Adams Media, Wiley, Random House, and Simon & Schuster are looking for? What is the best way to get your manuscript read when you're an unpublished author? Want to know the biggest mistakes to avoid when writing book proposals? You'll be engaged as these top pros share their expertise, reveal the inner workings of the publishing industry, and discuss various approaches to common marketing and publishing challenges.
Additional bonus after hours cocktail party where you'll have the opportunity to network with speakers from the day, industry experts and other attendees.
This is a small intimate event and will sell out quickly
SPACE IS LIMITED - ONLY $399
VIP PASS $149 INCLUDES PREFERRED SEATING, SPECIAL ACCESS TO AGENTS AND PUBLISHERS, FREE DRINKS AT THE EVENING COCKTAIL PARTY, AND AUTHOR 101 2008 7 CD SERIES - A $200 VALUE
Register yourself and a friend and save!!
Only $399 plus a $50 reservation deposit refunded at the event.
Some of the key topics that will be covered include:
- How to write and present your book proposal to an agent so that your book can be sold to a publisher.
- What are publishers looking for in a new book? What separates "yes" from "no" and what you can do
to get the best advance.
- What do you need to do to make your book a best seller.
- How to promote yourself using low-cost means online to catapult your sales and exposure into the stratosphere.
What you'll learn
How to create "hooks" for yourself and your business that will make you virtually irresistible to every media outlet and make coverage for yourself a virtual certainty.
How to get rich and become famous by being a guest on radio show without spending a dime on advertising.
How to create promotional materials (media kits, etc.) that will have the media running to you for your opinion every time a story in your area pops up
How to quickly and easily create an automated process to capture leads and sales and to up-sell and cross-sell these people with a minimum of effort.
How to make any book you write or publish an Amazon best-seller with a system that has been PROVEN to work.
If you'd like to learn the secrets of getting your book published or how to turn your book or publishing business into a money machine, this course is for you. Keep reading to find out more.
You'll get more out of this $399 seminar than any event this year offered at any price in the publishing industry. http://www.author101university.com/
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Inside the Amazon Sales Rank
Understanding Amazon Sales Rank
The Amazon sales rank is a number that says how many other titles sold more than your titles. The smaller the Amazon Sales Rank number, the better the sales. The Amazon sales rank is normally re-computed daily.
As an example, a major publisher tracked 25 titles over a six month period, correlating the weekly Amazon sales rank with actual reported sales from Amazon. Here is what they found correlating Amazon Sales Rank with real sales:
Sale Rank Books Sold per week
You will also see fluctuations in the Amazon sales rank when your book is first released on Amazon. As the initial backorder are filled, the sales rank plummets (sometimes below 1,000) for a brief period. You might also see dramatic drops in Amazon sales rank when a large Corporation or a University buys your book as a textbook.
Here is a GREAT article on Amazon sales rank calculations:
Amazon's sales rank is calculated as a rolling figure. It's based on sales over a recent period. I can't remember if the period is 60 or 90 days, though. It is, however, weighted by overall total sales (they put this back in after having dropped it for a couple of years), keeping long-term big sellers afloat even after their sharp sales peaks have leveled out.
Not all books are recalculated with the same frequency. The top 1,000 are recalculated hourly. The next block (up to 100,000, I think) are recalculated weekly, while the rest get checked monthly. However, a sudden burst in sales is enough to force an immediate recalculation on a 100,000+ book. This is probably based on a percentage of overall sales, but that's just a guess.
· 1 - 10,000 are recalculated every hour.
· 10,001 - 110,000 are recalculated every day.
· Above 110,001 are recalculated once a month.
To begin with, any book which has no assigned sales rank has yet to sell even one copy on Amazon. So, if you're looking at a book with a sales rank of 4,000,000, then you at least know it has sold at least one copy.
Rosenthal also says that all items are assigned unique rankings. So if you're listed at an Amazon Sales Rank of 34,385 (my book's Amazon sales ranking for May 10, 2001), then there are only 34,384 books selling better than yours, and your book is selling better than approximately 4,000,000 other books.
2.2 (11 copies every 5 days)
0.2 (1 copy every 5 days)
0.006 (3 copies every 500 days)
0.0001 (1 copy every 1000 days)
Rosenthal estimates that Amazon sells over 150,000 books per day. Using that as a baseline, he has developed a chart where he plots Amazon sales rank against sales.
· The top-selling book MAY be selling as many as 3,000 copies a day.
· The 10th best selling book MAY be selling up to 650 copies a day.
· The 100th book MAY be selling up to 100 copies a day.
· To break into the top 10,000 listings, your book needs to sell at least 2
copies a day.
An ASR above 10,000, it gives books / day / 5 (approx. the number of years Amazon has been tracking ranks). In other words, if you sell 14 books, you'll get a rank around 900,000. The graph will tell you that you're selling around .006 books per day, multiply by 365 and get = 2.1 books / year. Since Amazon has been doing this around 5 years, the graph predicts you've sold around 11 books - pretty good! It doesn't matter if you sold 11 books seven years ago, 11 books last week, or just over 2 books a year for 5 years, the rank will be the same.
Monday, September 21, 2009
By AMY CARTER The
September 8, 2009
With her wiener dogs.
And a cause.
It's not a real cause this time, mind you. Virginia Gunn is not looking for another one of those.
"In fact, I never was," says Gunn, a former
The real Gunn's eponymous alter ego in the book, however, is passionate enough about protecting the beaches of St. Simons Island that she will spend hours in the Kroger grocery store parking lot, waiting to enlist in her fight the as-yet-unknown driver of a beaten up Volkswagen Beetle sporting a shiny new Greenpeace bumper sticker.
Meet the fictional Virginia Gunn, heroine of an entertaining little subplot in "The Eleventh Victim," a novel by HLN news host Grace, a
Grace's Gunn is cocked to fight. Over condos. On the beach. Even if you weren't living here 18 years ago when the name "Virginia Gunn" and the word "beach" first appeared in the same news story, your interest should pique to find the two reunited again.
Grace read those stories of the real Gunn's fight in the community while still working as a prosecutor in
"Virginia Gunn has always been such a high profile celebrity in the city of
Grace's novel is a thriller not unlike the kinds of books written by the real Gunn's fellow activist in matrimony, the late Bill Diehl. Diehl's fame was cinched when Burt Reynolds directed and starred in the 1981 movie version of Diehl's novel "Sharky's Machine." The couple married in a televised New Year's Eve ceremony at The Cloister on
One of her earliest headlines in The News appeared on May 8, 1991: "Citizens Question Beach Renourishment." A sidebar asked: "Is Project a Threat to Turtles?" In that story, the real Gunn, a volunteer member of the Sea Turtle Stranding and Salvage Network, asked government officials: "Why are you doing this (renourishment project) during turtle breeding season? The dredge boats killed 83 turtles last month. Turtles are coming in all sliced up and I know what's doing it. Five turtles were killed last week."
And so the war was on.
Eventually, Gunn and Diehl would parent an organization devoted to finding alternatives to the county's beach building plan. The Save the Beach organization argued that groins would only increase erosion; that beaches are, by nature, unstable, building and eroding as Mother Nature deems. They researched alternatives to the $7 million project. They picketed in front of the historic Glynn County Courthouse. They daily called in to the local radio talk show, bought full-page newspaper ads and made the cover of "Creative Loafing," an alternative newspaper published for the
They fought the county for the better part of a year, until the idea of beach nourishment was finally abandoned.
"Bill and Virginia were perfect leaders for the Save the Beach movement," says Nancy Thomason, a former member of Save the Beach and owner of Beachview Books in the Village on
Like her fictional self, Gunn is a former member of the Glynn County Commission, elected the year the beach project died.
"Sometimes being commissioner felt like a blood sport," Gunn said.
Not unlike the battle for the beach. Still, the good memories trump the bad.
"Somehow Virginia, and others in the group, were always able to see humor in what was happening," Thomason recalled. "We laughed a lot. We always knew we were having more fun than the other side, even when it looked like they were winning."
The people were the ultimate victors, Gunn said.
"I'm very proud. The beaches look great, and we saved the taxpayers millions of dollars by getting this project abandoned. I hope it is a story that is never completely forgotten."
Meet Virginia Gunn.
Virginia Gunn - both live and fictional - will return to
Saturday, September 19, 2009
The internet is a wonderful tool for research or to find places from my past.
The second thing I remember was I was given a job with responsibility connected to it.
We were having a fair and I was in charge of getting the horses. They probably were really ponies, but they seemed pretty big to me. We had to bring the horses across town to the school. Now you would think that they would have loaded up on a trailer for transport, but nope. A man and I transported them by leading them to the school. Through the streets of
When I came back to the states my father allowed me to enter a horse show. I placed third, out of three. My love of horses was gone. I like to look at them, but I'll leave the riding up to others.
The last thing I remember about
I guess we were graduating from middle school. We were all dressed in our uniforms, listening to whatever you listen to at such an event when a bird shit on my head and shoulders. This was so damn funny to everyone in attendance except me. Some nice teacher said it was a sign of good luck. Who thought that up? To me it was a sign that a bird had shit all over my head, and I can't remember any good luck coming out of that situation.
All in all, I had a wonderful time at that school. Now it is gone. According to the internet, it moved to
Today I was informed by the television that hurricane Bill has formed. I wish Bill, my husband was alive. He would be pleased that there is a hurricane out there named after him.
The number of vacations that Bill and I took together can be counted on one hand. We never went anywhere much unless it was for business. There was no one to take care of all of our animals and I've been just about everywhere already, so it was never really important that we go places. We lived on an island, on the most beautiful piece of property, with amazing sunsets, and dolphins playing off our deck. Who needs to leave that?
Before we married, we did take a vacation. The year was 1979. We started off by going to Montego Bay in
We finally made our way to the airport. It was packed with people trying to get out. So many unhappy people just standing around. The airport was closed. More hours passed.
Finally Bill took control. He left and came back later with a big grin on his face. When in doubt, throw money at the problem. He had found a drunk pilot in the bar. For a large amount of money he agreed to fly us out of there, if we could find someone to remove the palm trees from the runways. He paid people to go out and remove the debris. Then we rounded up some other people who were just as desperate as we were to get out of there.
We split the cost. We didn't bother to tell them that the pilot was drunk.
We finally ended up in
I didn't care why. I was in heaven. Each villa had a large bell that you rang when you wanted anything. Food, drink, a massage. It would be delivered immediately by someone who must have been living under the villa. They would just appear. I would swim naked in our pool. There was no one to see me, and at that time in my life, I looked pretty good, so why bother with a suit? The villas were almost like living outdoors. No doors on interior rooms. No glass anywhere. Shuttered windows that stayed opened most of the time. It was simply magical for many days, and then THEY came.
The family arrived in the villa next to ours. They were fat and loud and very unhappy. I didn't care that they were fat. I've been fat at times, myself. I did mind that they were loud and pissed off. You could hear them screaming at each other. Especially the wife. She hated the place. No phone. No T.V. No air conditioning. She was one miserable person.
I was just as miserable thinking of spending time with them in "my" pool. So, she storms out on the balcony, still yelling at her poor husband. I did the only thing I could think to do to irritate her even more. I went down to the pool, stripped down to nothing and dove into the water. The woman looked like she was going to have a heart attack. Shortly thereafter, they checked out and life went back to pure bliss. It was a most wonderful time with the man I loved for so many years. So, I decided the other day to google it. Not that I would ever want to go back without Bill, but just for a trip down memory lane. This is what I found out about Habitation LeClerc.
At one time in the seventies it was the place to go. Jackqueline Bouvier Kennedy stayed there . Mick and Bianca Jagger did too. It shut down in the eighties. This is the description of it now: " The ancient stone wall surrounding the fifty acre forest has collapsed into heaps of rubble. Squatters and thugs have invaded the once-pristine grounds, moving into its bungalows, cutting down trees, destroying plants and dealing drugs. It is now a metaphor for the environmental problems facing
Territorial bandits, mountains of trash, and pigs have eased their way up to and over the walls of the buildings and Botanical Gardens, causing most of the plants to be near extinction or die. Makeshift machine-gun slots now block the windows of the hotel reception area, and the marble fountains have long since run dry. A notorious drug gang called the Red Army has overrun the place, terrorizing and extorting "rent" from hundreds of squatters who have occupied the estate's thirty five mildewed villas. Nighttime gunfights are common, with corpses left on display in the morning."
How could something like this happen? Sixty percent of
Hurricane David killed thousands of people before he made landfall in the
Nothing last forever, not even the Bonaparte's villa. Not my school, and not my husband.
Cherish the memories of your life. Cherish the golden moments, and try to make some more.
And then there was hurricane Hugo, but that's for another day.
Friday, September 18, 2009
We know you've been working very hard on your screenplay, but before you go looking for some professional feedback, you might keep in mind the following piece by A History of Violence screenwriter Josh Olson.
I will not read your fucking script.
That's simple enough, isn't it? "I will not read your fucking script." What's not clear about that? There's nothing personal about it, nothing loaded, nothing complicated. I simply have no interest in reading your fucking screenplay. None whatsoever.
If that seems unfair, I'll make you a deal. In return for you not asking me to read your fucking script, I will not ask you to wash my fucking car, or take my fucking picture, or represent me in fucking court, or take out my fucking gall bladder, or whatever the fuck it is that you do for a living.
You're a lovely person. Whatever time we've spent together has, I'm sure, been pleasurable for both of us. I quite enjoyed that conversation we once had about structure and theme, and why Sergio Leone is the greatest director who ever lived. Yes, we bonded, and yes, I wish you luck in all your endeavors, and it would thrill me no end to hear that you had sold your screenplay, and that it had been made into the best movie since Godfather Part II.
But I will not read your fucking script.
At this point, you should walk away, firm in your conviction that I'm a dick. But if you're interested in growing as a human being and recognizing that it is, in fact, you who are the dick in this situation, please read on.
Yes. That's right. I called you a dick. Because you created this situation. You put me in this spot where my only option is to acquiesce to your demands or be the bad guy. That, my friend, is the very definition of a dick move.
I was recently cornered by a young man of my barest acquaintance.
I doubt we've exchanged a hundred words. But he's dating someone I know, and he cornered me in the right place at the right time, and asked me to read a two-page synopsis for a script he'd been working on for the last year. He was submitting the synopsis to some contest or program, and wanted to get a professional opinion.
Now, I normally have a standard response to people who ask me to read their scripts, and it's the simple truth: I have two piles next to my bed. One is scripts from good friends, and the other is manuscripts and books and scripts my agents have sent to me that I have to read for work. Every time I pick up a friend's script, I feel guilty that I'm ignoring work. Every time I pick something up from the other pile, I feel guilty that I'm ignoring my friends. If I read yours before any of that, I'd be an awful person.
Most people get that. But sometimes you find yourself in a situation where the guilt factor is really high, or someone plays on a relationship or a perceived obligation, and it's hard to escape without seeming rude. Then, I tell them I'll read it, but if I can put it down after ten pages, I will. They always go for that, because nobody ever believes you can put their script down once you start.
But hell, this was a two page synopsis, and there was no time to go into either song or dance, and it was just easier to take it. How long can two pages take?
Weeks, is the answer.
And this is why I will not read your fucking script.
It rarely takes more than a page to recognize that you're in the presence of someone who can write, but it only takes a sentence to know you're dealing with someone who can't.
(By the way, here's a simple way to find out if you're a writer. If you disagree with that statement, you're not a writer. Because, you see, writers are also readers.)
You may want to allow for the fact that this fellow had never written a synopsis before, but that doesn't excuse the inability to form a decent sentence, or an utter lack of facility with language and structure. The story described was clearly of great importance to him, but he had done nothing to convey its specifics to an impartial reader. What I was handed was, essentially, a barely coherent list of events, some connected, some not so much. Characters wander around aimlessly, do things for no reason, vanish, reappear, get arrested for unnamed crimes, and make wild, life-altering decisions for no reason. Half a paragraph is devoted to describing the smell and texture of a piece of food, but the climactic central event of the film is glossed over in a sentence. The death of the hero is not even mentioned. One sentence describes a scene he's in, the next describes people showing up at his funeral. I could go on, but I won't. This is the sort of thing that would earn you a D minus in any Freshman Comp class.
Which brings us to an ugly truth about many aspiring screenwriters: They think that screenwriting doesn't actually require the ability to write, just the ability to come up with a cool story that would make a cool movie. Screenwriting is widely regarded as the easiest way to break into the movie business, because it doesn't require any kind of training, skill or equipment. Everybody can write, right? And because they believe that, they don't regard working screenwriters with any kind of real respect. They will hand you a piece of inept writing without a second thought, because you do not have to be a writer to be a screenwriter.
So. I read the thing. And it hurt, man. It really hurt. I was dying to find something positive to say, and there was nothing. And the truth is, saying something positive about this thing would be the nastiest, meanest and most dishonest thing I could do. Because here's the thing: not only is it cruel to encourage the hopeless, but you cannot discourage a writer. If someone can talk you out of being a writer, you're not a writer. If I can talk you out of being a writer, I've done you a favor, because now you'll be free to pursue your real talent, whatever that may be. And, for the record, everybody has one. The lucky ones figure out what that is. The unlucky ones keep on writing shitty screenplays and asking me to read them.
To make matters worse, this guy (and his girlfriend) had begged me to be honest with him. He was frustrated by the responses he'd gotten from friends, because he felt they were going easy on him, and he wanted real criticism. They never do, of course. What they want is a few tough notes to give the illusion of honesty, and then some pats on the head. What they want--always--is encouragement, even when they shouldn't get any.
Do you have any idea how hard it is to tell someone that they've spent a year wasting their time? Do you know how much blood and sweat goes into that criticism? Because you want to tell the truth, but you want to make absolutely certain that it comes across honestly and without cruelty. I did more rewrites on that fucking e-mail than I did on my last three studio projects.
My first draft was ridiculous. I started with specific notes, and after a while, found I'd written three pages on the first two paragraphs. That wasn't the right approach. So I tossed it, and by the time I was done, I'd come up with something that was relatively brief, to the point, and considerate as hell. The main point I made was that he'd fallen prey to a fallacy that nails a lot of first timers. He was way more interested in telling his one story than in being a writer. It was like buying all the parts to a car and starting to build it before learning the basics of auto mechanics. You'll learn a lot along the way, I said, but you'll never have a car that runs.
(I should mention that while I was composing my response, he pulled the ultimate amateur move, and sent me an e-mail saying, "If you haven't read it yet, don't! I have a new draft. Read this!" In other words, "The draft I told you was ready for professional input, wasn't actually.")
I advised him that if all he was interested in was this story, he should find a writer and work with him; or, if he really wanted to be a writer, start at the beginning and take some classes, and start studying seriously.
And you know what? I shouldn't have bothered. Because for all the hair I pulled out, for all the weight and seriousness I gave his request for a real, professional critique, his response was a terse "Thanks for your opinion." And, the inevitable fallout--a week later a mutual friend asked me, "What's this dick move I hear you pulled on Whatsisname?"
So now this guy and his girlfriend think I'm an asshole, and the truth of the matter is, the story really ended the moment he handed me the goddamn synopsis. Because if I'd just said "No" then and there, they'd still think I'm an asshole. Only difference is, I wouldn't have had to spend all that time trying to communicate thoughtfully and honestly with someone who just wanted a pat on the head, and, more importantly, I wouldn't have had to read that godawful piece of shit.
You are not owed a read from a professional, even if you think you have an in, and even if you think it's not a huge imposition. It's not your choice to make. This needs to be clear--when you ask a professional for their take on your material, you're not just asking them to take an hour or two out of their life, you're asking them to give you--gratis--the acquired knowledge, insight, and skill of years of work. It is no different than asking your friend the house painter to paint your living room during his off hours.
There's a great story about Pablo Picasso. Some guy told Picasso he'd pay him to draw a picture on a napkin. Picasso whipped out a pen and banged out a sketch, handed it to the guy, and said, "One million dollars, please."
"A million dollars?" the guy exclaimed. "That only took you thirty seconds!"
"Yes," said Picasso. "But it took me fifty years to learn how to draw that in thirty seconds."
Like the cad who asks the professional for a free read, the guy simply didn't have enough respect for the artist to think about what he was asking for. If you think it's only about the time, then ask one of your non-writer friends to read it. Hell, they might even enjoy your script. They might look upon you with a newfound respect. It could even come to pass that they call up a friend in the movie business and help you sell it, and soon, all your dreams will come true. But me?
I will not read your fucking script.
Josh Olson's screenplay for the film A History of Violence was nominated for the Academy Award, the BAFTA, the WGA award and the Edgar. He is also the writer and director of the horror/comedy cult movie Infested, which Empire Magazine named one of the 20 Best Straight to Video Movies ever made. Recently, he has written with the legendary Harlan Ellison, and worked on Halo with Peter Jackson and Neill Blomkamp. He adapted Dennis Lehane's story "Until Gwen," which he will also be directing. He is currently adapting One Shot, one of the best-selling Jack Reacher books for Paramount.
Â©2009 Josh Olson. All rights reserved.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
NEW ENGLAND CRIME BAKE 2009
REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN!