Saturday, December 24, 2016

The Ratio of Reviews to Books

My new year's resolution when it comes to publishing is to improve my reviews-to-books-published ratio. This means writing and publishing fewer books and expending more time and energy in getting people to review the books that are already out there,

I am actually thrilled with the reviews I did get this year, so I compiled them into a video and am sharing it here.

"You must be really disciplined," one friend told me, "to keep writing so many books year after year." No, actually it's a lack of self-discipline that makes something like that happen. It's unbridled passion that compels a person to start writing one book in the middle of writing another one. The two Theodosia and the Pirates books happened to me when I had not even finished writing the second half of Our Lady of Kaifeng. How embarrassing!

As an author,  you want to have many more readers than books to your credit, and I think that requires discipline. So in the future I will write less and work harder to recruit readers for the books I have already written.

Why just a few moments ago, I put this New Year's resolution to work when the dogs made a commotion and Bow alerted me to the fact that a car had pulled into my driveway. It was two older Jehovah's witnesses, a man and a woman, and they were lugging Bibles and pamphlets as they walked up to the door.

Lickety-split I went and fetched my own books. Three of them were easiest to get hold of: Our Lady of Kaifeng: Courtyard of the Happy Way, Theodosia and the Pirates: The Battle Against Britain, and Theodosia and the Pirates: The War Against Spain. I've written other books, of course. Those were just the ones that came readily to hand.

"Merry Christmas," I greeted the white haired man and woman opening wide the door, before they even had a chance to knock. "I see you have a lot of information to share with me," I said, eyeing their literature. "But I have a lot of information to share with you, too. I have written these books, and I want to give them to you as a Christmas present."

The man glanced down at the volumes I was proffering. The picture of Theodosia and Jean on board ship did not seem to appeal to him on the cover of the top book. "I don't think I want them right now," he said with a look of displeasure, as if I were offering him something not quite kosher.

"Oh." There was a very brief silence when I considered telling him that I did not want his literature, either, But I decided that would not be polite. So then I just said: "Well, then you have a merry Christmas, anyway." And they said merry Christmas, too, in a half-hearted way, and turned and walked back to their car, dejected.

In terms of handling solicitors, I think that went rather well. But as a seller of books, I have a long, long way to go. Like any other gospel, you just can't give it away!

The books I offered the Jehovah's Witnesses


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  2. I am surprised they said Merry Christmas to you. Back in the day the Witnesses were really strict, and kids were not even supposed to celebrate holidays, or say the flag salute at school. Maybe they are becoming less confrontational in their approach, and their doctrine seems to change every few years. At one time they thought the world was going to end in 1914, and the founder Charles Taze Russell refused to have sexual relations with his wife, but she came home one day to find him necking with a protege. They actually got divorced over that. It is one of the odd millenial cults that grew out of the late 1800s, but as a kid I did not think it was fun. Their contradictory behavior and changing tenets regarding the world not ending has made them revamp their brand several times. I am sorry, but they are a cult pure and simple. I do not hate them or anything, but it is interesting people still feel compelled to join. They are not even like a regular church in that they are very exclusive and insular.

    1. Yes, I felt that they did not really enjoy saying merry Christmas back to me and said it grudgingly, but I do not know if it is forbidden to them. I don't know as much about them as you do, Julia, and I have no ill will, except I do not like to have pushy, unexpected guests. But in this case, I managed to be so outgoing they did not have much of an opportunity to say anything before they retreated. This is not normal for me, nor is it normal for them, but it seems to be a good way to handle the situation.

    2. Maybe they are more open now, but back in 1984 they taught that saying Merry Christmas was akin to spending time with the devil.