Beating Windward toward success


Beating windward: it’s a nautical thing.

My younger days were spent as a daily beat reporter and later, as a freelancer, and I had a lot less stuff to worry about. Knocking around central Florida in an old Toyota Celica with a couple changes of clothes, a volleyball, and a battered copy of Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash in the trunk is a fond memory now.

As a writer, I doubt that I’ll recapture the spirit of those younger days, crashing on friends’ couches and brainstorming with them about our respective Next Great Novels. But I still keep moving forward and writing. The skill remains necessary even as the medium changes around me.

Take a few minutes to check out the site of a friend of mine who’s moving forward with his own vision, one he talked about often when we hung out during those central Florida brainstorming sessions. What I mean is, he started an independent publishing company. And he did it right: he went and got a master’s degree in the field, and then combined his love of the written word and his love of sailing with a wish to see more of his friends’ awesome stories in print. And now the world has Beating Windward Press to deal with. Check out his first imprints, and enjoy.

Hooray! My book sucks

The very first Amazon user review of Fighting Fleas is in, and it ain’t pretty. It’s not horrible, either — in fact, it’s enlightening, and I’ll tell you why.

First off, it’s a one-star review. That’s always bad, right? And it’s clear the reader hated the book. That should make me angry. I should be shaking my fist at the sky screaming “they just don’t understand me!” or calling the reviewer names and wondering if he or she just drank a cup of stupid this morning. But I’m not. Not because I’m a Pollyanna, glass-is-half-full type, but because this review seemed pretty honest and frankly, helpful.

“If you are a fan of chemicals and pesticides then this book is for you. I was hoping to find natural and healthy ways to control fleas,” the reviewer wrote. Sounds harsh, but the fact is, the reviewer purchased my book looking specifically for natural alternatives to the flea sprays, shampoos, collars and other chemical treatments. And she (or he) didn’t get the information she was looking for.

“…however it is clear that the author is not a fan and does not recommend any of them,” the reviewer continues. “She actually points out the dangers of the least toxic solutions while touting the benefits of poisons.”

That’s an interesting statement. I’d hoped to give a balanced view of both natural vs. chemical treatments, but for this reader, it wasn’t balanced at all. And it raises questions about what exactly readers are looking for. Is it a good idea to present two opposing alternatives in one book? Is it better marketing to stick to one or the other–a book that only covers natural flea treatment, for example? There are actually quite a few on shelves already, meaning there probably is a bigger market for natural-only treatments. Read the rest of this entry »