Last year when visiting our journalist friend Eve Conant in D.C., I asked Eve for advice in getting my own writing career started. She passed on some advice that had been given to her at one point by a mentor, and that advice stuck with me. While I don’t remember her exact words, the gist of it was to think about building my writing career on three pillars:
With only eleven days left in my book contest, I just learned that it’s illegal. As explained in this post, requiring a purchase for entry in a contest is technically a lottery. Requiring a proof of purchase to enter a contest is against the law in California (for private individuals and businesses). So is providing the option to make a purchase to enter a contest. So the whole contest design is screwed.
It seems unlikely that anyone will care–as far as I can tell only major corporations like CVS have gotten in trouble for violating the No Purchase Necessary law.
Changing things at this point would be unfair to those who have already entered. So, the contest goes forward, with the same rules as originally stated. But next time, I’ll have to rethink things.
How To Solve Book Promotion
Ideally, the best way to promote your own fiction is to write good or great stories, have people read them, and then tell their friends about it. Word of mouth all the way.
But that can be slow. And I’m trying to build a career as an author. So not only do sales matter, but sales within certain periods of time matter. Publishers look at these things, and make judgments (as they should, as they’re trying to stay in business).
Which is all to say that I haven’t figured any of this out yet. But you’ll have the opportunity to see me flail around trying to understand this space. I can guarantee that I will be trying things. Some of those things may be awkward (but hopefully, going forward, not illegal).
I have a new short story in Issue #11 of Compelling Science Fiction called “Targeted Behavior.” It’s about a tech startup in San Francisco attempting to “solve” homelessness via pharmaceutical means (which, as you might guess, doesn’t go quite as planned). It’s free to read online, but please consider subscribing or purchasing the Kindle edition anyway. Editor Joe Stech is doing great work.
Like anyone who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, I think about homelessness everyday. It’s impossible not to, given the current state of the housing crisis. Thousands of people live on the streets without permanent shelter, some of them quite visibly in tents or sleeping rough, others (who might sleep in their cars, or couch surf) much less so.