I believe it was Stephen King who said he wants to grab the reader by the throat or somewhere and keeps him fascinated and reading his books. He did that, no doubt, he sold more than sixty million copies, made several wonderful movies from his books and some colleges studies his work for reasons they can explain. And he did this with simply good, fascinating stories, no silly Fifty Shades of Filth extras were needed. I like that, really, no type of porn should be in books and certainly not be on your book rack.
The power of reading is a big deal in your education. I do not get people that don’t read and find them shallow to talk to. If you base your knowledge on what your read in newspapers or popular magazines, you are really at a disadvantage. You will never be able to talk with readers at the same level, sad but true. The problem though is that not everyone likes reading, that is a fact of life, I cannot know why, the two groups don’t mix well. They will say we booklovers are weird, live in our own world and probably nerds too. And yet you cannot tell me that intellectuals are not good sport men and women. We find highly educated, medical doctors, lawyers (debatable, I have yet to meet a smart one) on our sports fields. So it takes all types and then there are the authors, my word, a specie on themselves.
I don’t get why an artist and it is extremely debatable if an author is an artist should be “otherwise” and “moody” and God know what else. At the end of the day, if you punch them on the nose hard enough, they will bleed. And as a group they are boring people too, always talking of their latest books (understandably so, me too, you ask me about the GMJ Series, man, be warned, I will talk for hours and ignore your polite disinterested looks, so don’t ask me). But there is also jealousy, if one makes more money or gets a good review and you are told you suck, a lot of anger comes out, unnecessary so. The nice thing about a pseudo name like mine, a code, is that I am not known as the author of the GMJ Series besides a few mates. And yet, I can tell you, anyone reading those books will recognise me and I am invited for “tea” now and then by the “State” because of the contents of the books, which is military history, espionage, love and accurate enough to draw official attention. They always ask, how do you know this? I always smile, go and find out! We parted ways years before.
On a personal note, I have no hopes really, nor any delusions, that I am the next great writer. Nor do I believe the books will ever be top sellers as you need a lot of luck and money to reach that status. Someone must “discover” you and if not you have to “get discovered” and so the writing part is easy, fun and exciting. The marketing part, for a nerdish fellow like me, a nightmare of epic proportions. Especially when you cannot afford marketing anyway. I made peace, it will take time and I concentrate on why I wrote the Series, now 15 books. I wrote them to honour my late wife and as far as that is concerned, I succeeded and I am happy with that. I am also proud, the few who read the books, seemed happy and wanted more but in all honesty, it is also a desire to tell stories from my part. Yes, to get you to love the characters, to laugh at times and to put the book down thinking, wow, I learned something. Hell, is this fiction or not? Who is GMJ? What made him honour his wife like that? She must have been special (damn right, she was and is).
Last week a local Bank made their name even more muddy than usual – yes, a senior guy, a director (oh my word, so important if you work at that Bank, for the rest of us, a zero of a contract) said people should save money by NOT buying books. They should borrow or go to the library or looks around second hand (he obviously does not know what second hand books cost) and the entire author community rose in anger. This, you have to get, is their lifeline, income and very bad news to them. You would have seen many blogs and personal attacks and an apology demanded. It is all part of the game, marketing, get in the news, perhaps someone will “discover” me.
It may be odd to you but I agree with the man, paper books are ridiculously expensive and cannot be afforded by many. Where an e-published book is about 2.99 on average (USD) the very same book, word for word, is about 14.99. Is paper better? I don’t know, holding a book in your hands, smelling it and getting paper cuts is traditional, it is what we grew up with. For me, no, I think e-publishing is much better, I like Kindle and I like the idea of not having to bother with paper books and I love books. What is sad about all this is that the longer the book, like the latest GMJs are all 300 plus pages in paper, the less money the author makes. Yes, weird but true, the costs increase and the loser is you, the reader because most authors will then write it shorter. We can play with words you know, it is what we do, we decide the length but only up to a point. When it comes to me, the story decides the length. That is why the books are between 93 000 and 138 000 words, the story will take us to wherever and I count words, not pages. Oddly, I don’t plan the books in advance, they write themselves, a talent from God, not me and one I am proud off. I do like my own books and I am vain enough to be saddened when they are not read because they are not “discovered” and I feel frustration when too broke to market or you send someone a copy and they do not even have the good manners to say thank you. You then wonder why will you do so again? And you remember why you write and why they get a book for free.
I write because I am close to my late wife when I write, I tell her the story and she smiles at me when I do so, that makes me happy and so I write. The latest book, Code Name Blue Tang, is one she played a massive part in. Yes, dogfighting between modern fighter jets, a long standing discussion (we never had disagreements, she was too smart to argue with) on what will happen if the South African Air Force Gripen JAS39 goes up against her F-18 Super Hornet. She knew everything about the Super Hornet, by the way, and never actually believed me either when I told her the South African derived Mirage Cheetah C defeated the American F-15 Strike Eagle and F-16 Fighting Falcon in mock air combat. Since I do not wish to give the story away (it’s based on facts as is all GMJ Books) you can read it for yourself. I am sure it will be shocking to many and delightful to others but we had fun! And that is all what counts, not the lack of sales, the lack of good reviews, the lack of fame, nah, all crap, we had fun!
George M James is a pseudo name for the author and used for security reasons. He is an expert on counter terrorism and counter insurgency operations in sub Saharan Africa, a military and war historian and published author of 43 books. His late wife was an American Patriot that served with the U.S. Navy. His books are widely read among military veterans of many nations.