Don’t Follow Your Dreams – You’ll Get Nowhere Except up the Backside of the Person in Front – Work Your Dream into Reality

I write books. Seriously, that’s what I get to do every day. It’s great.

I have been fortunate to author some that have achieved bestseller status, including The Hunters Series of mystery suspense thrillers. It took me a lot of years to get to that point, but I wouldn’t trade any of them for a minute. I love writing books for you and the journey that brought me here.

I am a native of the south, Georgia specifically. I spent much of my life there, but I have lived in many other places as well. We moved a lot when I was young. Eventually, we ended up back in Georgia in my teens where I finished school and went to work.

I wanted to write from an early age. A really long time ago, when I was still a young police officer in Georgia, I was writing short stories in my spare time and sending them off to magazines. One day I received one back in the mail.

Life Happened

Attached to it was a nice handwritten letter from an editor (this was long before the days of email and texts). The story manuscript was folded and smudged, and there were coffee cup rings on the edges of a couple of pages, which told me they had actually read it, maybe discussed it around an editorial table, or just used it to sop up the coffee.

In her letter, the editor said a lot of things that I don’t remember, but it was not the usual form letter that I was accustomed to receiving. It was original and personal.

She said they liked my story, had strongly considered it for publication, but that it wasn’t quite believable. Disappointed as I was, I was struck by her last words to me… “Don’t stop writing. You’re good at this. We almost bought this one.”

I remember staring at that a long time. Then I folded it up and tucked it in a file and … stopped writing.

I wish I could tell you a different story, but I can’t.  I stopped writing for many years.

There were lots of reasons. Yes, I was disappointed, but the letter that should have encouraged me not to give up was forgotten. Life happened. Dreams of writing were pushed aside by other things… important things.

Mostly I needed money for my young family. In the 1970s, police officers in Georgia were not paid a lot even by the standards of the day. I worked part-time jobs whenever I wasn’t working at the police department. Many weeks I had no days off at all.

I’m not unhappy that I did my best to take care of my family. It was the right thing to do and working for them was the joy of my life. Children grew up; then grandchildren came along. More life happened.

Then… The Internet Appeared

Then out of the blue, this thing called the internet appeared and guess what. I was at a point in life when I didn’t need to work part-time jobs every spare minute of the day. I could write again.

It’s different these days. I can publish a book whether I convince an agent or editor to read it or not. I am an independent writer/publisher, an “Indie.”

Being an Indie is not easy. There are no big marketing budgets and TV appearances to spark book sales. There is only you and me.

I like it that way. I get to write what I want and you get to read what you want with no middle-person between us. No agents or publishers dictating what the storyline will be or what sells.

It’s a partnership between us, writer and reader, and it’s a marvelous thing. The old closed publishing world that required almost a miracle to have the right person read your work is changing thanks to the digital age. I am grateful to still be around to experience it and enjoy it.

As of this writing, I am eleven novels and a collection of short stories into my writing adventure. It hasn’t been easy, but it has been worth it.

Some years back, I left Georgia, working for a large corporation. Then I moved west and became the city manager of a small mining community in the mountains of northern Nevada. Now my wife and I live in the deserts of the far west. You got it… more life happened.

Don’t be a Follower — Make Your Dream Real

It took many years to get here. Life is like that, with lots of twists and turns and surprises. I like it that way.

Now, I write every day. I wouldn’t change a thing. One thing though… I wish sometimes I had been able to find a way to keep writing while life was happening. It’s not a regret, just an assessment, and it brings me to a bit of advice if you have read this far.

Don’t follow your dreams. Followers get nowhere except up the backside of the person in front.

Work towards your dreams. Life will happen and then happen some more. That’s as it should be, but you are the one who will make your dream a reality.

Best- Glenn

Writing – A Short Thought…Love it, or Leave it

Writer Tee Shirt

I suppose the point of this Tee Shirt message is that writing is not as easy as it looks, and that’s true…but this makes it sound like it is a terror…a frightening, horrific experience. It’s not. Writing is a joy and a craft that you must learn in order to succeed. There are good days and bad days like everything else, but if you are a writer and feel this way about your craft…give it up. It’s not for you.

I love writing and being a writer. If you do not love it…leave. Life is too short to spend it in this kind of agony just so you can call yourself a …Writer.

And with that, I leave you to your Labor Day Weekend, hoping that it will be a wonderful time for you and yours.

KENP Is In…and the Whiners are Out in Force

manSo here it is…the great reveal…the dreaded month when Amazon unveiled KENP (Kindle Edition Normalized Pages) and actually paid authors for what they are worth. Oh, the unfairness of it all! (sob of despair, hand raised dramatically to the forehead.)

What the hell is the old man talking about? Fair question.

I know that this audience is a mix of readers and writers, so for the non-Kindle Select readers and writers among you, allow me to explain.

 A Personal Choice

For several years, Amazon has had a program called Kindle Select for authors. Some authors, like me, have opted into it. Others have not. It is a personal choice. Amazon does not pressure anyone to join the program. You may publish your books on Amazon whether you are a Kindle Select author or not.

There are several reasons why I have chosen to list my books with Amazon Kindle Select. For one, it simplifies the publishing process, so that I can focus on the core of my business…writing.

Amazon is the biggest marketplace, and I am fine with that. I tried publishing with other markets (Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, Lulu, I-Books, etc.) and sold almost no books. In some of those markets, my total sales were…0…nada…a big goose egg.

So, I made the choice to go with Amazon, the largest market with the best business model. And let’s be honest, Amazon Kindle led the E-book revolution and continues to do so. It has worked out pretty well for me.

 Writing is a Business

Do not forget that writing is a business as well as a creative literary art. You have heard me say it before…authors like to eat, live under a roof, drink an occasional beer, go visit the grandkids…you know the things other people do.

When you publish on Amazon, you have the choice of publishing as a Kindle Direct Publishing author (KDP) or as a KDP Select Author. KDP Select requires you to publish exclusively with Amazon for a ninety-day period. At the end of the ninety days, you can drop out or re-enroll in the program. Your choice.


Amazon offers a number of promotional and income incentives to Select authors in exchange for their exclusivity. These include the option to offer your books at a reduced rate during a “Countdown Deal”, or to offer them free as part of a promotional package. Many of my readers have taken advantage of these promotions, and I am happy they have. Otherwise, they might be asking who the hell is Glenn Trust and why is he pissing off all of the other writers out there?

You may also, opt into the “Matchbook” program, which allows a reader who purchased a print copy of your book also to buy a Kindle version at a reduced price. A Select author can take advantage of these promotional opportunities for any of their enrolled books during the ninety-day period.

Some authors, like me, appreciate and use these programs regularly. Others do not. As I said, no one is coerced into joining the KDP Select program and many prefer to market in their own way through various other marketing channels. I prefer to write and try to become better at writing than spend time working all of the other markets for minimal returns. There is no right or wrong to this. As I said, it’s a personal choice.

 I Like It

Another incentive to enroll books in KDP Select is the opportunity to be compensated for the books that are borrowed through Amazon’s Lending Library (KOLL) and Kindle Unlimited (KU) programs for readers. This is a benefit for readers and authors, and another indicator that Amazon has a great business model that is innovative.

Amazon did not have to pay authors for borrows in the KOLL/KU programs. When someone goes to a library and checks out one of my books that the library has purchased, I receive no compensation for that library lend. I wouldn’t expect to.

But, it was in their business interest, and mine, to implement the program and pay authors for the borrows as an incentive to enroll in KDP Select.

It’s fair and I applaud their business acumen. As I have repeatedly said in this post and others, writing is a business as well as art. Forget that and you will be a very hungry writer.

Amazon could have allowed people to pay their fees for Amazon Prime or Kindle Unlimited, borrow the books and not pay authors for the borrows/lends. But, they do pay us. Last month they committed $11 million to be distributed to authors who have books borrowed through the KDP Select program. I like it.

Just so you know, I am not a shill for Amazon. I receive no compensation for posting my opinions here or elsewhere. I am a businessperson whose business is writing books. I try to put out a quality product so that my readers come back and want to read more books. My income comes from readers who like my work.

 Suck It Up

In the past, the KOLL/KU program ran in this way – A customer would borrow a book and authors would receive a lump sum for each book borrowed. It didn’t matter what type of book it was, how long it was, or what the quality of the writing was. If your book was listed in Kindle Select, you were paid a standard rate every month based on the total number of books that were borrowed. In other words, you received your proportionate share of the incentive money for books borrowed.

It was always a bit of a thorn in the side of some authors, me included, that all books were rated the same and valued exactly the same. Let’s be honest, if you read a lot, you know there are good books and…uh…not so good books out there.

Having said that, we sucked it up and went on writing…it’s what we do. After all, the KU/KOLL program was a bonus, an incentive, for being a Kindle Select author. The income from the books borrowed was a supplement to our regular royalties. It was never intended to be an author’s primary source of royalty income.

Besides, I need to write and whining takes too much energy away from putting words together into coherent sentences. The program wasn’t entirely fair to writers who spent months working on a novel. They were competing against authors who were cranking out short 100 page (or less sometimes) pieces and enrolling them in KDP Select, but we accepted it in the spirit of goodwill that Amazon offered it.

I suppose it would be asking too much for whiners to work within the new, fairer rules and Suck It Up, as we did in the past.

 They Got It

I have to give Amazon credit. They finally understood the inequity of their program…another sign of their business acumen and fair play.

Not all books are of equal length or of equal quality and value. They got it.

They came up with an extraordinary idea. Pay authors in the Kindle Select program for every page read of the borrowed books. No more paying the writer of a hundred-page short cranked out en masse at the same rate as the writer who spends months fine-tuning a lengthy novel. Instead, pay both of those authors for the actual pages read…a much better indicator of the quality of an author’s work. If readers keep turning the pages, they must like what they are reading.

The playing field is now equal. It is a free and open marketplace, and I, for one, am grateful for it.

 Seems Fair to Me

But, it has become the source of considerable controversy…and Whining.

Many are not happy. Amazon is unfair, they cry. Amazon is a bully. Mean old Amazon, “I’d like to put a flaming sack of shit on their doorstep.” (Yes, I actually saw one comment that said exactly that.)

Many are throwing public tantrums, posting long diatribes in social media and blogs wailing against Amazon, and those of us who happen to support the new program. Their verbal weeping and gnashing of teeth reads as if their heads were about to spin off their shoulders.

Why are they so unhappy?

Because those authors who were cranking out small little pieces and flooding the market on Kindle Select and KU/KOLL are no longer able to dominate and receive the lion’s share of that revenue. Now, they are paid, as am I, by the number of pages of their borrowed books that are actually read.

Seems fair to me. Write a god book and people read it. Put out a book that is poorly written and readers move on to something else.

 Gaming the System

See what has been happening? Some writers have been gaming Amazon’s system, a practice that is no longer possible.

In the past, they could throw out anything, enroll it in Kindle Select, where the minimum price of the book must be $2.99 if you are on the 70% royalty plan. To put that in perspective, many fine and lengthy novels are priced at 2.99 on Amazon. Admittedly many are by newer authors who are trying to develop their audience, but that does not diminish the quality of their work.

But the whiners were deliberately pricing a short piece that may have taken an afternoon to write at the same price as a full-length novel. (Okay maybe that’s a little harsh, let’s say it took them a week in some cases, even two weeks) The abbreviated length of the book drove readers to borrow the book and not waste money on a purchase. They were then paid for every lend/borrow of the book…just like me and everyone else.

Apparently, some of these authors were making their livelihood in this way, inundating the Amazon KOLL/KU marketplace with cheap, often poorly written bunkum. And apparently that is why the quality of some of the books you buy or borrow on Amazon is so poor. I know; I’m a reader too.

 Don’t Like It? Drop Out.

For those writers who are unhappy with the new Amazon method, I will point out, once again, that the KU/KOLL was never intended to be the primary source of a writer’s income. It was meant to be a benefit, bonus, an incentive to writers for enrolling in the Kindle Select Author program. Don’t like it? Drop out.

I won’t mince words here, as I suspect I have already pissed off any of those writing whiners that have read this far. If KOLL/KU has been your primary source of royalties, then you have been gaming the system, and I am extraordinarily happy that Amazon caught on and changed it.

By the way, I am not criticizing shorter works. I have even read a couple of the shorter work writers who also happen to be among the complainers. They are good enough to make a living through sales. They don’t need to game the system. But it may take a little more effort and time spent in writing. Isn’t that what we got into this business for, anyway?

I also have a couple of favorite authors specializing in shorter books and whose books I read avidly. I won’t mention their names here because I don’t want this post to negatively impact them or their book sales.

If you write good books that happen to be short in length and want more pages read, write more books. You might also consider selling your books at a reasonable price to drive up actual sales. In the time it takes me to write one of The Hunters Series novels, you could complete two, three, maybe four shorter works, depending on their quality and length.

If you write longer books and want more pages read, write better books. It’s that simple. It’s fair.

 Do It Downwind

Amazon has no obligation to guarantee you an audience or any certain level of income. They are not the bad guys. They are a business. Writing is a business. If you don’t get that, then you might consider doing something else. Part of business is fair competition.

The new pages read method simply means that if you write an excellent book, one that people will want to read, you will be paid. If you do not, you will not be paid. It’s all about customer/reader satisfaction and competition in the free marketplace.

I’m okay with that. I am happy to compete on the playing field that has been leveled…finally.

In addition to fairly compensating all Select authors, the new KENP program solves another problem. It will increase the quality of the books that are available to KOLL/KU readers. Want your pages read…Write A Good Book!

Amazon wants to satisfy their customers. As authors, why wouldn’t we wish to do the same? The only reason I can think of is that some have become committed to perpetuating the scam and the easy way out instead of to writing.

Thank you again, Amazon for leveling the field. As for the whiners…please do it downwind. I’m working.

Write Right, Damn It!

Proper Use of You'reUh oh…the old fart is in a bad mood.

Deep breath…no not really. I just came across one of my pet peeves…the improper use of the words – Your and You’re. They are not interchangeable people!

Now I don’t pretend to be an expert in grammar and punctuation. I have my struggles, along with my never-ending battle with sentence-ending prepositions, if you can understand where I’m at…I mean the point at which I am…Bullshit…I mean where I’m at.

Still, there are certain fundamental grammatical forms that, when used improperly, are just plain incorrect because they MEAN SOMETHING DIFFERENT than what is intended. This is not the same as improper conjugation of a verb or using a comma instead of a semicolon, or the aforementioned preposition-ending sentence. I can see those errors and still understand the meaning of the passage I am reading. In truth, I also comprehend what is meant when someone misuses Your and You’re, but I always wonder if the writer does.

So, before I go any further (not farther, by the way) let’s get this straight.

Your: An adjective that describes the possession of something tangible or intangible. Ex. Your book, Your idea.

– You’re: A contraction of the pronoun You and the verb Are, (1st person plural of the verb infinitive ‘to be’ which is used to link the subject (read pronoun You) to some information about the subject (read pronoun You). Ex. You’re never going to be published if you don’t (another contraction) learn the difference between Your and You’re!

 Get it?

Okay, so what’s the point old man, you ask. Just this, serious writing requires the same attention to detail that a carpenter puts into building a cabinet, or an engineer designing an airplane.

Words have meanings. When I read a sentence that misuses simple vocabulary, I wonder how much time and thought went into the writing of the piece.

I’m not referring to dialogue…although the You’re contraction should be correctly used there as well. We all know that dialogue must be real to be meaningful. That means that it frequently is written the way people actually speak. My books are full of southernisms and dialect that is intended to bring color and realism to the action.

But if I want to say “You are the very distasteful offspring of a female dog” as spoken by a character in a story, I might say:

“You’re one mean son of a bitch” (I might even throw ‘asshole’ in for emphasis.)

I would not say:

Your one mean son of a bitch.”

Get my point?

Okay. That’s enough ranting by an old curmudgeon.

This to my writer friends, work,  hone your skills, learn your trade the way a carpenter or engineer does. Learn how to use words; don’t be used by them.

I mentioned in my last post that truly becoming a writer requires work, but the work is a thrill ride that I would not trade for anything else. When you know that the words you have written have found a way into the hearts of readers, that in some way they have been absorbed into their life experience, you will embrace the work of writing as well as the passion.

Easy Reading Hard Writing

Want to Be A Writer? Cut the Crap!

Steinbeck - Writers Clowns

Welcome to the world of Clowns and Trained Seals…or somewhere in between.

A little over two and a half years ago, I published my first novel, Eyes of the Predator, on Amazon. I make no claims to be an expert in writing, publishing or making a ton of money as an author (I wish), but I have had a modicum of success and a few observations that might be of help if you are a new Independent Author. Or you might, just decide the old man is full of…well, you know. Only way to know is to read on, or not…your choice. I did learn that lesson early on in my writing career.

First, learn to write. Seems to be a no-brainer, right? Not so much.

If you haven’t already discovered it for yourself, there is a lot of junk out on the various ebook publishers’ sites. When I first started publishing my novels, I read that one way to become known is to do book reviews for other Independent Authors. I thought, great idea, and started building relationships on Social Media and soon had a few requests to review books for authors. I soon stopped that practice. Why? Because most of what I was reading was silly drivel, poorly written and poorly edited. I could not in good conscience give a positive review, and my personal feeling is that if I can’t say something positive about an author, struggling as I am in my own writing experience, I prefer to say nothing at all.

So, learn to write. How do you do that? Pretty simple really…write.

Oh, you can spend months researching, studying, reading, listening to advice from “experts”, but in the end you must write. I would also add, that you must read. Reading increases your feel for language, the conveying of emotion, sensory perception, drama and tension through words.

When, I go back and reread one of my novels, I invariably find passages that I wish I had written differently. Maybe one day I will return to the manuscripts and rework them, but for now, I push on, and I…yes, that’s correct…I write.

Second, cut the crap. Why, Glenn, whatever do you mean? Writing is my passion…my calling…he/she said, as he/she puts a wrist to their forehead and gazes dreamily into space overwhelmed by the majesty of the artistic calling of authorship…Bullshit.

Once you have decided to string words and sentences together in such a way that others will want read them, it is time to cut the drama…and the crap. Trust me, readers don’t give a flying &8$# about your calling. They want a good story, a riveting plot, characters they can relate to…they want to be entertained, or educated, or elevated in some way. They want to laugh, cry, feel fear, and hope, happiness and pain…they want a good book!

I am constantly annoyed by the drama I see in various writer’s groups, seminars, circles etc. I freely admit that I am not a young man and I tend to be easily annoyed by many things and people anyway, but I have a special distaste for the need of some to create drama in their lives. I do not speak of the drama in a good plot. I am talking about the personal, self-inflicted, breast-beating, look at me world sort of drama, or as I have termed it…crap.

For those authors who feel they must opine about their calling as a writer, I say…shut the hell up! Want to know what may be preventing you from fulfilling your “calling”, your “passion”? Forgive me for being direct (actually I don’t care if you forgive me or not), but the self-indulgent, narcissistic need to explain your calling and passion is sure to inhibit your focus on what you claim to be…a writer…. Additionally, it will annoy others (read Glenn). Seriously, cut the personal drama and write. You will be surprised at how much better you become at your “calling”.

 Third, be careful from whom you accept advice (including from me). Find your own way. Discover your own writing voice, style and way of sharing your stories with the world.

That is not to say that you can’t mimic styles. We all do, whether we admit it or not. Somewhere along the way, however, your style of writing becomes yours…personal and recognizable as belonging to you.

Fourth, writing is your job…your business. If you say to yourself, “I write for the joy of writing. I don’t care if anyone reads my words or not.” I say to you…Bullshit. (I use that word a lot I guess…call it my writing voice. I found it years ago,)

If you feel that way, you are a hobbyist. You are not a writer. Sorry if that sounds harsh. There is a place in the world for hobbyists, but not in the world of writers.

My advice, don’t take yourself as a writer too seriously (see Steinbeck’s quote above), but take the business of writing, damned seriously. Those of you who are engaged in the struggle to become published authors know that writing words means that you want someone, somewhere to read them. That’s the point of it all! There is no shame in being honest and admitting it. Deny it and you are a damned liar, or supremely confused about what being a writer entails.

How do you treat writing as a business? Have a work ethic. Go to work, so to speak, daily and write. Sit down and do it…stop talking about it. The more you do it, the better you get at it. Imagine that.

Fifth, promote your writing…your business. In fact, promote, promote, promote. No way around it, unless you have one of the premier literary agents and a sweet contract with one of the big publishing houses (In which case, you will likely not be reading this post).

Learn marketing and promotion so that others (call them readers…or even customers) know you are a writer and want to read what you have written. Be shameless about it. Are you proud of your work? Then promote it. If you don’t, no one else will.

Marketing and Promotion is a big topic. I am currently gathering some data that may be of interest to you about independent marketing. I will share it in an upcoming post…maybe. Until then, do what I did. Figure it out and keep promoting.

Oh, by the way, you must have a backlist…more books…lots more books. If you write one book, promote the hell out of it and have some success, readers will want to read more from you. If there is nothing to read, they (your readers…customers) will soon go somewhere else. I learned this the hard way. I’m slow, but eventually I figure things out. So as I have said above, write and keep writing!

 If you are a writer, and I have offended you…well, it wouldn’t be the first time. If you are a “writer by calling” (sigh of passionate joy at the thought of your literary calling)…I don’t care.

But, if you are serious about writing…if you want to write…take the mystery out of it and…Write!

The World Was A Very Dark Place

Try One More Time - Edison

It is uncertain how many attempts Thomas Edison made before he found a suitable carbon substance to use as the filament in the first viable electric light bulb. Different reports  say 10,000 others 6,000. In one interview,  Edison was asked if he felt like a failure and if he didn’t think that perhaps it was time to quit, to give up on the electric light bulb.

Edison is reported to have replied, “Young man, why would I feel like a failure? And why would I ever give up? I now know definitively over 9,000 ways that an electric light bulb will not work. Success is almost in my grasp.”

His wasn’t the first light bulb. The concept had been around for a while. Others had given up. He did not. The world was a very dark place before Edison.  We hunkered down in the dark, staying close to our candles and gaslights. He changed that, but it took time.

For me, the greatest sin is this…To give up, to allow our lives to be dark and barren because we did not try, because we gave up. Never let others talk you out of your dreams.

Our dreams make our lives.
Best – Glenn