Thank You eBook Readers!

An Illustration from AustenNow that was a cool Valentine’s Day weekend! The publisher of my novel A Jane Austen Daydream (Madison Street Publishing) had it as a free eBook for two days on Amazon. Over the weekend, I was able to see my novel top a few genre lists on Amazon and almost break the top 100. Wow!

If you are one of the many that grabbed a copy of my book, I would first like to say “thank you.” I hope you like it! The second thing I would like to add is… well…

See, to make it in this very congested world of writing there are primarily three possible paths to success for today’s authors. The first is sheer luck; the second is you know someone (agent, publisher, etc.); and the third is word of mouth. I am aiming for the third option. So if you downloaded a free copy of my book, and enjoyed it, would you help?

Here are some easy options that you might consider:

  • Write a review of it on GoodReads or Amazon.
  • Tell a friend.
  • Gift it to someone.
  • Choose it for your book club.
  • Write about it on your blog, or review it on the site.
  • Share it on Twitter or Facebook.
  • Recommend it to your local library or bookstore for stocking on their shelves.

And those are just the quickest and easiest options I came up with off of the top of my head. You might have a better option I might not have considered. Whatever the case, I would love for more readers to find my novel.

Again, thank you for making my Valentine’s Day so memorable (like this moment below). Memorable moment

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Twitter-Free: My 24 Hours Without Twitter

The Fail WhaleI have over 30,000 Twitter followers. When I began this post I had tweeted exactly 10,400 times. No more, no less. Tweet #10,401 will be the first notice that I have written this post.

I am an author on Twitter and, honestly, I don’t think Twitter has led to many book sales really from the traffic. It does generate blog views, but never more than a third of what I get on a daily basis. The rest comes from subscribers and those who just seem to check me out from time to time. So what is this hold Twitter has on me that I keep returning and why do so many follow me?

For me, personally, Twitter is an ego trip. I admit that. Beyond the amount of followers, I get a huge kick out of sharing, retweets, and likes around my articles and books. And I especially love it when someone writes to me about my books usually to say they are reading one of them or enjoy it.

The fact is though I can’t imagine having a real friendship or relationship over Twitter. There almost needs to be a new word for the relationships built on this social network; somewhere below “acquaintance” but above “name recognition.” Yeah, it’s not like Facebook where a majority of my “friends” I have actually spoken to at one point. This is more like epic literary crowdsurfing for a writer. Like I am thrown to the sea of Twitter, riding my book like a boat. And there are thousands and thousands of other writers and readers like me on the rough sea in similar boats… and now and then we will see a Fail Whale. Making us at that moment the internet equivalent of Ahab.

Well, not this day.  For on this day, for the first time in two years, I have decided to take a break and document my withdraw… Continue reading

Working The Audience: A Very Useful Writing Trick

On the StageI am a little bit of a helpless romantic.

For those who read my novel A Jane Austen Daydream that is not at all surprising. And before I met my wife I thought of my writing as a gateway to the heart.

I was one of those fools that bought into the lie of the romantic novels and the romantic comedy films. You see this plot twist all the time! That grand gesture that makes a person reconsider another in a different light. Oh, it is a great idea in a story, but we all know, honestly, it goes against how people are wired in the real world.

Short stories with hidden messages (and not so hidden ones), books, and I still squirm to remember the poetry. I have admitted a lot of embarrassing stuff on this site, but this is one of those few memories I still want to crawl into a cave and live out my remaining days because of. Yup, just the hint of it makes me want to become a hermit.

I, Scott Southard, was the creator of bad love poems. And I have sent them, strategically left them around, and even mailed them once anonymously in the hope that it would make another stop and see me as hotter (as some kind of light rock classic kicks on in the background like in a bad movie). In the end it never worked… and, by the way, the recipient of the anonymous love poems didn’t even figure out they were from me until I said something! Ouch!

All those bad memories aside, there is something to be said for the importance of an audience. I’m not just talking about the readers all writers dream to have, I mean that more enigmatic dream of a reader. The one we hope will find our work, the one in the back of our mind that drives the creation forward. They demand the story. What many don’t realize is that dream reader can be a tool, and can help over many different steps in the creative process if used right. Just be sure to leave the poetry at home… Continue reading

The Empty Theater: Writers on Twitter, Facebook and Good Reads

The Empty TheaterNever again. I promised myself never again.

A few years ago, my novel My Problem With Doors was published by iPublish Press, a publisher out of Canada. Being a new press and from a different country, it was quickly proven difficult to get the book on shelves in bookstores or to get the work any attention on Amazon and elsewhere.

I was (and still am) very proud of the novel, and began to make as many calls as I could to make my book a success, in the very least in the area I live. First, I met with the local arts council and garnered their support. Working with a popular bookstore in the area, a reading and event was planned around the book. The local newspaper reviewed this novel ahead of the event (gave it a great review!) and even my local NPR station promoted the reading as an event coming up.

Yet..

When the event took place only friends, co-workers, and family were there.

Not even members of the local arts council showed up!

While everyone there were very positive, bought all the books available (and I was grateful they showed up), I felt a little ashamed, like somehow I had failed my book and my dreams. I know that sounds a little dramatic, but, hey!, I am a writer and I get dramatic about a lot of things. It’s in my blood.

It was that evening that I promised myself I would never put myself in that position again. The next time I give a reading or an event I would be at a place in my writing career where I wouldn’t feel like I was standing in front of an empty theater.

Never again. Continue reading

Redefining Writing Success: Learning to Fly in Today’s Congested Writing World

IcarusI was an innocent dreamer when I arrived in Los Angeles.

I had big plans and it all felt like the beginning of a movie to me. I was about to start studying in one of the best writing program in the country (University of Southern California. Go Trojans!) and I could feel the destiny thick around me like cigarette smoke. I could smell it on my clothes and in my hair; I could taste it on my tongue. In my mind I was certain that this moment, this arrival, was the true start of any future and inevitable biography that someone would write about me.

The stuff of legends.

That first night I had to stay in a hotel. And I practically skipped (already wearing my USC sweatshirt) as I approached the front desk. Behind it was an older, somewhat heavy, bored-looking woman and, noticing my sweatshirt, casually asked if I was a student. Oh, the can of worms she just unleashed!

I quickly talked about the writing program and the professors I was going to study under, about my books, about my scripts, and about my plans, etc. The words (and dreams) flooded out of me. I could have gone on all day.

And when I finally stopped to take a breath, she casually interrupted and said, “Yeah, I’m a writer too. Here is your key.” Continue reading

The Thin Muddy Line of Online Book Reviews: A Writer’s Thoughts

GangstersA few days ago I was given an offer, much like in The Godfather, that I supposedly couldn’t refuse.

At least that is how the offeror thought of it. See, there is a Facebook page I, from time to time, visit where writers will share links to their books and give updates on their writing. I do as well. Anyway, I had posted about my new book A JANE AUSTEN DAYDREAM, and underneath the book, the fair offer was given. It said, in so many words. “Hey, I’ll write a review on your book, if you write a review on my book.”

Of course, what the offeror was forgetting in that comment, but was definitely implied, was “positive review.”

If this was only a one-time occurrence of a back alley review deal, I would brush it off, move on, but the fact is I get about four to five offers like this a week. Sometimes they are through Facebook or Twitter, but many times they are over e-mail. Occasionally, the person offering the arrangement is playful in the asking, and some (like this guy in the comment) have no problem with anyone seeing the plan.

Usually, I try to be very kind when someone places such an offer to me, I bring up how busy I am with my own writing right then (which, honestly, is very true and I have had to say no to friends handing me things to read as well), but it always makes me feel very uncomfortable, because at the heart of such an exchange there seems to be a certain level of trickery.

Maybe trickery is too harsh a word, but you can’t escape the fact that reviews created in such an arrangement are put out there to convince a reader, someone who possibly doesn’t know better, to buy a book that might or might not deserve the rating it was just given. Leaving that future reader with the equivalent of a horse’s head in the bed when they wanted the full horse. Continue reading

My Favorite Writing Posts

Even Superman writes!We writers love to write about writing. Do other artforms love discussing their own art like we do in our neck of the woods? Do painters paint about paintings? Or singers sing about singing? Okay, this is a silly notion and the answer is sometimes, but nothing like us writers. We own this.

Yes, we writers love to discuss our artform (read and write) and I even have the personal proof to back the magnitude of this.

See, I like to think I write on a lot of interesting topics from movies to life experience to  TV to parenting, etc. (Heck, even last week I wrote 1300 words on Winnie-The-Pooh!), but nothing beats the numbers of visits I get when I put up a new writing post. And luckily for me I love writing about writing.

Books, and the creation around them are a passion of mine. I love throwing a thought out there and watching the responses come in via twitter and comments.  Sometimes I agree with the responses, sometimes I don’t, but it is always fun (not when they get mean, of course, which sometimes does happen).

I thought today I would link back to four of my personal favorite writing posts with updates and new thoughts from me on them below their link.  Consider it the equivalent of a reunion special… of my mind. Continue reading

Pushing The Boulder: Finding Your Drive to Write

Sisyphus and his friendOnce, I basked in the sunlight of destiny.

Most of us writers do, it is a repercussion of reading too much fiction growing up (all heroes and heroines have destinies, don’t they?). And, honestly, when one reads a biography of a writer doesn’t it always feel like some other worldly power gave something somewhere a nudge? You can feel the word just hanging on everyone’s lips, hiding behind each quote:

Destiny.

Another reason why we writers feel the tide of destiny is because of ego. All writers have an ego! If we didn’t, we wouldn’t believe that we have something worth saying! There is a reason people should waste their time with our words!  Yes, egos are a prerequisite for picking up a pen. Some are big, some are loud, but they are all there for each of us, whispering in our ears and telling us how pretty we are.

When I look over my life, I have a collection of experiences (that feel like short stories) that make up my mental autobiography, the chapter that made this man the writer. The funny thing is, after all this time, I couldn’t tell you exactly which earlier chapters were fiction and which were nonfiction. See, things blend together with me over time. (If you think this is silly, ask my wife. It is a common occurance for her to ask me if I am exaggerating something; and, to be honest, I do it all the time.)

So why am I bringing up destiny? Well, after years of trying to make it as a novelist I have a great truth to share, one that may not be easy for many to hear.

There is no destiny.

No destiny, no fate. The life of a writer is something you have to earn with sweat, blood, and a lot of luck.

And if you walk away, you walk away. Continue reading

402 Followers Proud! Thank You.

Enjoying the momentLast night, I passed the 400 mark in followers for my blog.

Wow! Seriously, I am really overwhelmed by this. Writing is such a lonely business, so to know that there are people out there that not only enjoy your work, but also like it enough to subscribe. Well, that is just breathtaking.

Thank you! Your support truly inspires me.

Other than my 402 followers, I recently passed 40,000 views on my site and my Twitter followers just exceeded 14,000. So 4 seems to be the theme for the day for me.

(Oh, and did you know you can now subscribe to my site for your kindle? I kid you not! You can learn more on amazon here.)

The next month is truly going to be a big one for me as a writer.

  • A Jane Austen Daydream is set for publication by Madison Street Publishing in April. It is in editing right now and I can’t wait for you to read it. If you would like to learn more about the work, read an excerpt and see the new cover, please visit The Jane Austen Centre’s website here.
  • Maximilian Standforth and the Case of the Dangerous Dare is also in editing, where I am working with the editor, Rebecca T. Dickson (you can visit her site and learn more about her services here). It is going very well. I don’t know the timeframe on this yet, but I do hope to have the book out some time in the spring.
  • Permanent Spring Showers, my last novel, is still currently up on this site here if you want to read it. However, once Max and Jane have left home, I plan to begin editing the book and it will be taken down. My hope is to find a publisher for it.

So, along with this blog, this is a busy writing time. Hopefully, I can keep generating material that brings you back.

Thank you again for all of your support!

My Five Favorite Posts, 2012

Father TimeI know we are not at the end of the year yet but I couldn’t wait. Yes, I am the kid on Christmas Eve wanting to open all of the presents early. And. let’s be honest, every blogger or writing site is going to be a doing a post like this. Why not be ahead of the curve?

So that’s me- Mr. Ahead of the Curve.

Before I get to my favorite posts, let me begin by saying how much I got a kick out of running this site this year. As a writer it has been very satisfying. Over the course of one year, I went from zero followers to 213 with over 25000 views this year alone. That is pretty awesome in my book, and just as satisfying this blog gave something back to me as a writer.

  • I was able to share fiction; things I have cared about that have been collecting dust around my house (and in my brain). The Dante Experience radio series is once again available to listen to, along with the unproduced scripts of the sequel.
  • A new collection of short stories, Upon The Ground, was shared on Green Spot Blue.
  • And I am writing a new book, Permanent Spring Showers, right here live for all to follow along… and many do!

A lot of what drives me and this site right now are you the readers. I know people say things like that all the time, but I am being very honest. You have no idea how powerful a like and a comment can be in spurring me forward, inspiring me. I might have abandoned this months ago if it wasn’t for the numbers and the responses. So this year, I am the most thankful for you the readers.

Thank you.

Here is my list of my favorite posts in no certain order… Continue reading