science fiction

Cthulhu Limericks promo video

In yet another blatant attempt to generate sales for my book Cthulhu Limericks, I created this promotional video, now live on the Bionic Eyes YouTube channel. You can check out the book in eBook and old school paperback formats through Amazon, Lulu, and other retailers.

The video has a rudimentary “plot” in which a reader picks up the book, and while reading a sample limerick is transported to a glitched out, eldritch world where Cthulhu darts forward to capture his prey!

“Reprogramming Cybertopia”–New video poem on YouTube

This week’s video poem posted to my Bionic Eyes YouTube channel is “Reprogramming Cybertopia.

This one is something of a science fiction story about a UFO invasion during which aliens reprogrammed our two dimensional reality to create a cybertopia based on disinformation. The sphere of control includes mental processing, advertising, reconfiguration of physical space, and the deletion of individual consciousness.

Flashes of awareness interrupt the flow of kaleidoscopic patterns, glitch erasures, and a thick haze of throbbing video distortion. Humans conduct themselves as normal, despite being embedded in an artificial environment.

Video text: “emit damage/and what remains/to defeat real truth”

Big Amazon Score: 100 copies of my own book for $1 each

It still amuses me to think of the time I bought 100 copies of my own book, Savage Night and Other Stories, for $1 each on Amazon. Looking back at my Amazon orders, this was on April 1, 2011.

I caught the sale at the right time. Amazon was listing my book for $3. I assume they had warehoused a few stock copies due to the success of my earlier book, Mondo DC. Now they had unsold copies to get rid of. On a whim, I placed an order for my own book, requesting 100 copies. I had to order the books in batches of 33, with one batch of a single copy. I figured they would cut me off based on the number they actually had in stock. But no.

They sent me 100 copies of Savage Night.

Savage Night and Other Stories

For me, this was a no-brainer. Kind of. My royalty rate on Xlibris, where I had self-published Savage Night, was $2 per copy. So eventually I got a check from them covering two thirds of the price I paid Amazon. My net cost was $1 a copy.

Of course I have roughly 98 copies of the book left in my house. If anyone wants one, let me know. I’m sure we can work out a fair price.

This actually happened a second time in May 2015 with the second book I published through Xlibris, Spells of Coming Day. Amazon listed the book for $4, and I tried to order 100 copies. However, the bookseller had learned their lesson. I was only able to buy 4 copies at the reduced price. Of course, I still have those sitting in my house.

Spells of Coming Day

Every now and then, I check the Amazon listings for my books. I haven’t seen any big sales lately. But it’s remarkable how many third party sellers are offering my titles, usually at prices far higher than either Amazon or Lulu list them. I’d like to know how that’s supposed to work. But in some way, it’s flattering to think that someone listed my book in their catalog, hoping to make a little bread. I’m sure it’s a win-win for them: if one sells, they just have to order it from Lulu (or Xlibris or AuthorHouse) and then send it out, reaping big profits.

Since I rarely see any royalties from my own books, I guess they aren’t selling too many copies. Somehow, it all seems like a commentary on today’s publishing industry.

 

 

Book ads appear in Asimov’s and Analog magazines

As part of a crazy scheme to attract a few readers and/or buyers, I took out a classified ad in Analog and Asimov’s science fiction magazines. They offer a pretty good deal for a three month run which includes placement in both print magazines and their e-book versions.

The ad contains a fairly simple message: CTHULHU LIMERICKS now available on Amazon, trade paperback by Jeff Bagato. 70+ rhymed poems exhume the LOL of Cthulhu, based on Lovecraft’s mythos. Check out novels by the same author, including The Toothpick Fairy and Dishwasher on Uranus.

The best part is that there are only a few other classified ads–as I suspected there would be. I believe this increases the impact the ad will have, on the theory it won’t have to compete amid a clutter of other messages on the page. Of course, whether anyone will look at that back page is unknown.

Advertising my self-published books is an experiment. It will be interesting to see if there anyone buys any books as a result.

Writing contest results


On March 10, 2015 I entered my “cyberpunk” novel Computing Angels in the 23rd Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards. On November 13, I received commentary and scores from “Judge #16,” as follows:

Structure, Organization, and Pacing: 3
Spelling, Punctuation, and Grammar: 2
Production Quality and Cover Design: 4
Plot and Story Appeal: 4
Character Appeal and Development: 3
Voice and Writing Style: 2

Judge’s Commentary:
Computing Angels makes an odd first impression with a rather striking, surrealist cover that hints at the weirdness to come. Inside, this science fiction/fantasy mash-up is a bit slow to start but winds up into a rather strange and fascinating tale.
Typos abound, though, like: “That’s why Jackson had picked up him up for assists.” This can make it difficult to sort out what’s a mistake and what might be a part of author Jeff Bagato’s creative voice and unique world building. This leaves the reader spending too much time trying to decipher things, keeping the otherwise wildly imaginative story a bit at arm’s length. This is an issue easily enough solved by the services of a good editor.

The science fiction world building is fascinating and richly realized, beginning with some archetypal ideas but quickly unspooling (in a good way) into something truly original. Enormous creativity has gone into this spare, fairly short book, and as such it calls out for a more thorough read. With an editor’s help in organizing concepts into a more cohesive narrative, this exciting novel of ideas could be something really special in what has become, unfortunately, a very tired genre, mired in “hard” science fiction.

If Jeff Bagato can take the craft of writing to the next level, he will be an author I’ll want to see a lot more of!

I still feel especially proud of Computing Angels, from the story to the book design to the cover art, all of which I did myself. On first read, the comments seemed completely ignorant, particularly those relating to “grammar” and the abounding “typos.” Throughout 2014 I proofread the complete manuscript multiple times (8? 10? a dozen times?), so I’m pretty sure that the book is relatively free of errors. The example cited is not actually a mistake at all, but an idiomatic,  informal expression of a first person narrator. It seems within the realm of correct usage to say, “He asked me for an assist.” In this case, the reference is to multiple “assists.” Just because a word is marked by spell check doesn’t mean it’s incorrect or unintentional.

The story’s narrative structure is somewhat complex, as if follows multiple characters from their own points of view who are scattered across the solar system. To help the reader place the character and location, each chapter heading contains that information. Nonetheless, the judge seemed to have trouble with this, which made me wonder how closely he/she was reading the story.

Another thing that irritated me: the repeated references to “hiring a good editor” to improve the manuscript. Surely the judge doesn’t mean him/herself? Among other things, Writer’s Digest sells editing services to aspiring writers who dream of breaking into the publishing game. For years, I’ve gotten emails from them almost every day pushing these and other services (which is how I learned of the contest.) The subtext here seemed to be: Since you were dumb enough to pay to enter our contest, let us sell you our editing services. No thanks.

It’s funny that when a writer receives criticism on a piece of writing, the focus is on the negative remarks. OK, so this judge misperceived the narrative style and structure. I do get it that if the reader has to struggle to keep up with the story, he/she isn’t going to enjoy it very much, and it probably means that more work is needed. On the other hand, after a third or fourth reading of the total comments, I began to see the very positive remarks, and they began to sink in. The first paragraph, for instance, which gives props to a piece of collage art I’ve always liked, and the “strange and fascinating tale” lurking behind it. By the third paragraph, the judge dishes so much praise, I began to wonder why the book wasn’t rated higher. “World building” seems to be the new buzzword for evaluating a science fiction novel, and apparently Computing Angels succeeds wildly at this, despite being “spare” and “short.” One of my major goals in any of my writing is originality, and it felt good to know the judge thought I had achieved that. I also like the compliment that the book is a “novel of ideas” that “unspools” quickly in a good way.

One never knows how an audience will perceive one’s work. Some of this judge’s remarks irked me, because I believe they are unfounded, and possibly the result of an understandably rushed reading. But his/her positive comments reaffirmed some elements that I have always hoped were present in my stories, and which I’ve always seen as the hallmarks of a great piece of writing.

6 books published in 2015

2015booksThis year I published six new books. OK, most of them were written long before, old manuscripts I’ve been sitting on for a while. Last year was focused on editing and revising Computing Angels and The Toothpick Fairy. The three Egyptian fantasies were written many years ago, and all are fairly short texts. Heta’s Book collects several shorter pieces, and The Revenge of the Rats Hand and Breasts in Darkness, My Back to the Light are fairly short novels. Dishwasher on Venus was written in 2014, in Sierra Vista, AZ; it’s a short novel, but I think it’s the best so far in the Dishwasher series that started with Dishwasher on Uranus and continues with Dishwasher on Mars. As with all my other books, these are available via Lulu.com, Barnes and Noble.com, and Amazon.