I’m making some of my novels available for purchase as eBooks, in pdf format that should be readable on your computer, on most hand-held devices, or on printouts.
The novels are designed to provide a kind of experiential learning while reading an engaging and enjoyable story.
READ SAMPLE CHAPTERS:
Mistress of Molecules (also available in paperback)
First Stringers: or eyes that do not see
Each novel carries one or more scientific themes: my attempt to put the science back in science fiction and the tech back in techno-thrillers.
The themes in The Freshman Murders are Mathematics and Anthropology.
The themes in First Stringers are Physics, Chemistry, and Social Psychology.
The themes in Mistress of Molecules are Chemistry and Politics.
In The Hands of God, the themes are Parallel Computing, Neurophysiology, and Prosthetics.
And, of course, always Computers!
WHY I HAVE AN ESTORE
My little eStore is not a suitable marketing approach for most writers. Each of us has to work out her/his own approach, and not just blindly accept the “conventional way.” I want to illustrate this principle by explaining the reasoning behind my eStore.
To publish a book the conventional way, you have to pass through a number of gates. Karl Iglesias, in his book, Writing for Emotional Impact, says: “We (the publisher’s first readers) are the gatekeepers, …the first person to make a decision about your script.” He also says the job of the writer (he’s talking about screenwriters, but his wisdom applies to novel-writing as well) is to evoke emotions in these gatekeepers.
A number of great-selling novels–Harry Potter, Johnathan Livingston Seagull, The DaVinci Code–tried dozens or hundreds of times to pass through these gates–and failed. Why? Because the gatekeepers (the editors and agents), did not accurately represent those other readers, the millions of people who would buy these books when the ultimately passed somebody’s gates and became available.
Tony Hillerman told me the story of his first agent for his first Navajo mystery, The Blessing Way. The agent said, “It could be a great book, Tony, if you just get rid of the Indians.” Tony didn’t follow this “advice,” and these mysteries have sold millions and millions of copies.
My friend, Tom, says, “Everyone wants to be first to try a time-tested idea.” Editors and agents are no different. If something really new comes across their desks, they have no experience or theory by which to judge its marketability. Among my many non-fiction books, I’ve experienced the same phenomenon. The only ones that have ever been rejected by publishers are the ones that have sold the best:
The Secrets of Consulting
The Psychology of Computer Programming
Becoming a Technical Leader
An Introduction to General Systems Thinking
Each of these was first rejected by one or more senior editors (the top gatekeepers), saying, explicitly, “It’s a nice book, but nobody would buy it.”
Well, over a million people have bought these books, so perhaps what these editors were saying was: “It’s a nice book, but nobody I know would buy it.”
And, they’re right. The other members of my fabulous critique group, The Plotbusters, are all published fiction writers, but none of them are primarily science fiction fans. They like my books, but they probably wouldn’t buy them in a bookstore. They might not even be looking in the science fiction section. The Plotbusters are exceptionally well-qualified to tell me what’s right and wrong with my writing craft, but they don’t have an adequate basis for judging their marketability to my special audience.
This special audience–the people I’ve worked with for more than half a century–enjoys my fiction books immensely. However, the usual gatekeepers are typically not the right audience. In keeping with my life goal, I’m writing for smart people, helping them be happy.
Let’s be clear. I’m not writing for just smart people, either, but just those who have been misunderstood and/or disrespected and/or abused for their smartness as they grew up. I was one of those misunderstood people, so I’m writing the kind of books I have always loved to read.
But these special people in my audience are, by definition, rare–and too rare to make an attractive market for your typical publisher. For instance, my first print novel, The Aremac Project, is so far selling at a rate of about 10 books per month. There’s a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy at work here. These sales are only through on-line stores, since bookstores don’t carry The Aremac Project–because it’s published by a small publisher so the bookstores don’t carry it.
When I tested this theory by putting two copies of The Aremac Project on consignment in a local bookstore, they sold out in the first month. Though two copies a month in every bookstore in the country would be great sales for me, it doesn’t work that way for publishers. In fact, a total of ten books a month is okay for me, as an individual, especially if the books remain on sale for many years, which they would not do in a bookstore. My novels are not “timely,” which means they are not dated, either. Like my non-fiction books, they will sell steadily for thirty or forty years–if they’re made available for sale. (At least that’s my hope, and my business model.)
So, that’s why I’m putting the novels on line in my own store, where they will stay as long as I’m around, and maybe longer. This way, I will be able to reach my special audience without having gates or gatekeepers between us. I’ll even be able to obtain my readers’ feedback directly and improve the novels when that seems a good idea.
So, that’s why my publishing model is different. And that’s why if you’re one of those special smart people I’m trying to reach, I invite you to visit my little bookstore.