Sunday, November 3, 2013

A Novel Idea

It seems sometimes that just about everybody and his or her grandmother is writing, or has written, a novel. It’s apparently both every writer’s dream and every non-writer’s dream, too. And, yes, I have written one, which is actually my second. But I've decided after careful consideration that the latter, entitled Zigzag Run, will not see the light of day—at least in its entirety—and I have my reasons.

Now one would think that a published non-fiction author like me would have a slight leg up in getting a work of fiction considered but, I can tell you in all honesty, that’s not the case. For most publishing professionals, the mere thought of another novelist roaming Planet Earth merits at best a big yawn or, more likely, utter contempt. 

Happily, though, advancing technologies and the brave new world that we live in supply writers of all stripes and talents the opportunity to circumvent the traditional publishing world—an indifferent world most of the time with “no” a more a familiar answer than “yes.” There are venues like that permit authors to publish their works as e-books in multiple e-formats at no charge. The royalty rates offered by Smashwords are considerably better than what mainstream publishers pay. The author actually gets the preponderance of the book's cover price. The catch, of course, is selling the book—and it's a very big catch indeed. But, still, Smashwords is getting noticed by the publishing brass and established authors, too, who like the idea of controlling their own destinies and keeping the lion's share of the profits.

On Smashwords as of October 31, 2013 is my novel, CreamSam Summer, which is based—loosely sometimes and not so loosely at other times—on an amalgam of characters, circumstances, and places from the neighborhood where I grew up. It’s Kingsbridge in the Bronx, 1978, and the narrator is a sixteen-year-old boy, which, coincidentally, was my age that year. Admittedly, I knew a man in my youth whom my friends and I called "Cream Sam" despite him having a more widely known nickname: "Red." You'll have to read the book to discover why, or at least the available free sample. Cream Sam Summer, though, is a work of fiction and not a roman a clef. The book is categorized as a YA (Young Adult), but it's for adults, too, I'd like to think—sort of like Paul Zindel’s The Pigman. The Harry Potter series was, after all, YA.

When one writes a book of any kind—puts oneself on the frontlines as it were—it's up to readers to decide in the end the work's worth or non-worth. That's the long and short of it. Not surprisingly, there's a mother lode of pretty awful stuff published on Smashwords, but that's to be expected. Again, readers can separate the wheat from the chaff—what they like and what they don't they like. So, to paraphrase Rod Serling: "Submitted for your approval: Cream Sam Summer."

For a little more background on the book, visit the Cream Sam Summer blog.

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