Sex sells … at least to my friends

Even though I still have a lot of work to do especially to get a marketing program underway and get the book formatted for other sites, I went ahead and put two separate editions of The Awful Mess: A Love Story up on Kindle earlier than I did everything else. I guess I just didn’t quite believe it could really be that easy to do. But it was.

And already I’ve learned something valuable.  Since I put up the regular edition AND a PG-13 Edition, but only marketed it to my friends on Facebook for now (that’s 89 people), I can safely conclude that my friends (and maybe a few of their friends) prefer to read the sex scenes, thank you.

My rankings have been all over the place and are appallingly low, I assume (again, I’m not really marketing yet), but at about a week in, I’d say this comparison from Tuesday night is fairly definitive:

Regular edition rank: #93,629   PG-13 Edition rank: #439,806.

Don’t ask me what this means in terms of actual copies sold, because I don’t know how to figure that out yet. Also, I’m told that Amazon people can actually return Kindle books, so maybe some of these excited people will just skim through for the scant couple of sex scenes and then give it back in disgust for a full refund.

Even so, it’s been fun to watch.  So to speak.



Just who counts as a Christian, anyway?

Today I started uploading my debut novel to Kindle, which meant assigning categories and keywords.

Now, The Awful Mess has some serious Christian themes. Even though the main character is a self-described “heathen” who does some regrettable messing around with a flawed (but not entirely unsympathetic) Episcopal priest, she ultimately falls in love with a committed Christian who’s prone to saying “Praise God” at odd moments. As my friend Lucia Nevai has pointed out, in many ways the book concerns itself with various levels of religious sincerity.

So one obvious category or keyword for this book might be Christian, right?

Apparently not.

I haven’t had the guts to try it, but I suspect I’d discover a whole world of hurt if I put it in that category. Just to confirm my suspicions, I asked the LinkedIn group I belong to (“Ebooks, Ebook Readers, Digital Books and Digital Content Publishing”) if I was correct in guessing readers in that category would be put off by progressive Christianity, such as  support for marriage equality.

One participant responded, “To be christian, it must respect some basic rules as not to go against christian principes [sic].” Another said, “I think you will find Christian bookstores unwilling to promote books that are not faithful to the Bible’s teachings….”

So I thanked them for the help (and it was helpful) and I decided to go with keywords “religion and spirituality” and “Episcopal” instead. At this stage in my writing career I’d like to minimize the number of angry one-star reviews.

But isn’t it ironic that a novel that literally quotes the Bible and concerns itself with Christian belief doesn’t fit into a category called “Christian” simply because it doesn’t hew to the most conservative interpretation of that word?

And why that automatic assumption that progressive Christianity is not “faithful to the Bible’s teachings.” Really?  Where do conservative Christians think progressive Christians get their ideas … toilet stalls? The Huffington Post? Isn’t it possible these Christians they describe as lacking faith are studying exactly the same scriptures and concluding that Jesus was mostly about love and forgiveness rather than maintaining purity and ancient power structures?

Anyway, it’s an odd feeling, as a Christian, to be excluded from this category … but I’m hopeful it won’t always be this way. This is kind of what my book is all about, really. In my fictional little town, real people who disagree completely about religion nonetheless find a way to show love for each other, even if it’s just with a friendly greeting, or a milk shake.

And no, I don’t think it belongs in the “fantasy” category.


Mark Coker makes me feel good

Coker always makes me feel good about what I’m doing.  I think he may be ignoring the importance of having some way of separating readable stuff from the rest, but I expect we’ll be seeing new mechanisms arise to help readers navigate through this exciting mess.



Plugging along … curtains closed

It seems as if just about everything I want to do with this web site depends on getting something else done first. (For example, right now I really ought to be manhandling my first five chapters into an attractive book format that I can save as a PDF so I can offer them free on the site by Wednesday, my personal deadline for going live.)

The most baffling aspect of this new enterprise is running this site. I’ve never blogged before, and I’m new to everything WordPress, especially the wonderful world of plug-ins and widgets.

In any case, the world is already rife with authors’ blogs. I plan to update only occasionally here, with anything that looks like it might be particularly interesting for readers of my books.

I’ve turned off comments on most of the site because of the endless comment spam. You can make comments below, but I have to moderate them, so they may not show up right away.  (Otherwise, you’d mostly see a bunch of determined folks from China telling me how great this site is, with links designed to sell you handbags.)