I am a Writer

It began in primary school.  I was a horrible student from day one – the only enjoyment I got from the educational system was when the teacher asked us to write a story.  Most of my one page epics in those days started with ¨Suddenly¨ (seems I knew even then to start with the inciting incident)

Then one day we had a substitute teacher.  I was deep into the writing assignment when I felt the presence of someone looking over my shoulder.  It was the teacher.

¨What do we do with our eyes?¨ she asked.

Dumb question.  I answered, ¨See?¨

No, we DOT our ¨I´s.¨

I guess the small dot over the lowercase letter ´I´ was of such great importance that it justified humiliating me in front of the class.  That was the end of my pleasure from writing.  Not all of my teachers were such douche-bags.  I had one great English teacher in high school – Mr. McGregor.  He gave me a lot of encouragement and often read my work to the class.  Still, it wasn´t enough to set me on the path I should have taken.

Fast forward 40 years and numerous misteps …. I was a musician, a hairstylist, a cook, a security guard, a doorman, a  salesman, and finally, (irony of ironies) an English teacher.

Then a few years ago at the peak of the Self Publishing revolution, I decided to try my hand at writing once again.  I had always felt the call and had made the attempt  to write a few time but never knew how it was really done.  I read a few books on the methodology and then set down to write a memoir about the dogs in our family.  This was largely inspired by the arrival of my dog Rose …. hence the title, ´A Rose by Any Other Name – Life Lessons from an Unremarkable Dog.´ I finished it and posted it to Amazon.  It was received with UNREMARKABLE sales.  Still, I had written a book.
Print

I felt compelled to continue.  I wrote a tutorial for teaching English to Spanish speakers and then sat down to the task of writing pure fiction.  6 months later I finished my novel ´LOBO.´ Again, unremarkable sales but I did garner some good reviews.
Print

cover

A half dozen other tutorials for English speakers later and I was ready to start another fiction project.

At that point in life I was diagnosed with Cancer.  Wow.  Talk about a shocker.  If I had only 6 months or so to live, I figured I better write another book.  The result was ´Mexican Mutts, Tequila Pups and Chili Dogs – True Stories of the Dogs of Mexico.  I think it is the best writing I have done to date.

untitled

As you can probably guess, I beat the cancer and am still here.  I have now fulfilled that nagging urge to write.  People have read my work.  I´m not on the NY Times bestseller list and probably never will be but I did what a ton of people strive to do and never get done …. I wrote.

So now I find myself at the turning point.  I don´t reread what I have written since I figure I might just scare myself into not doing it again.  I realize that my books are flawed in that the DO NOT follow most advice given in the HOW TO books I have read.  I don´t really care since I have no interest in writing a forgettable pulp fiction bestseller.  My favorite books in the grey genre of Dog fiction, such as ´Old Yellar´ ´Where the Red Fern Grows´ and ´White Fang´ don´t follow that formula either so I figure I am in good company.

Now I face the biggest challenge – Do it again.  Get it right this time.

I have an outline for a  story and I have been putting off getting down to the writing.  I have set out a challenge for myself this time.  To write the best possible novel or novella that I possible can without repeating any of the mistakes I made the first few times.  So that will entail a lot more editing on my part.  A lot more rewriting.

But regardless, I am a writer.  I have trained my mind over the last few years to put writing into the first priority in my mental process, to look for inspiration in everything that comes into my life.  This morning I noticed a pair of boxing gloves, tied together and slung over the telephone wires in front of my house.  Right there I thought is the gist for a story about a young Mexican Boxer.  That´s how my mind works these days.  I am a writer.

The new project is to be called ´All About Sammi – A Week in a Stray Dog´s Life´ and is in part inspired by the hero dog books, TV series and movies we loved as kids.  Canadian television had a series called ´The Littlest Hobo´ about a German Shepherd that went from town to town helping people.  Another was a favorite movie I recently saw again on youtube ´Benji´ (couldn´t believe how awful it was ….. I saw it three times in the theatre as a kid)

So that´s my small victory.  I am a writer.  Somewhere, someone is reading one of my books (notice the use of SINGULAR … as in ONE person haha)  But it is enough.

I hope to get All About Sammi written and into print before the end of the year.

David Gordon Burke
Find my books here.  

Debunking Writing Myths

I found this interesting graphic on-line.
medium_Rewriting

It’s a really good idea to understand what they are talking about in this graphic.  After all, if you don’t know what ‘Passive Voice’ or ‘Adverbs’ are then how are you going to know if you agree or disagree with the BAN on their usage?
Point by Point my opinion – Take it for what it’s worth.

The inciting incident.  It is said that if you don’t start with an inciting incident, the reader will put down the book.  Actually, the NON-READER is likely to put down your book.  Those people who actually can read and do read for entertainment or education, people who might have read ‘War and Peace’ ‘Don Quiojte’ ‘Ulysses’ or even ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’ are probably able to stick it out for a chapter or two.  They are readers, not FISH.  If you have to sink the hook right through their cheek from the first nibble, you aren’t much of a fisherman.  And they aren’t likely to understand anything deeper than ‘Twilight’ anyway.  Is that you target market/reader?

Introduce Main character in the first scene.  As the previous point, this is formulaic commercial paperback bestseller strategy and aside from being contrived for economic rather than artistic merit, it’s just damned BORING.

Genre requirements.  This means that you give the reader what they expect within the genre you are writing.  Great advice for genre writing but not everything can be pigeon-holed into a specific genre so yes, a good point but again, take what you will from it.

Enough dialogue.  Very valid point.  There is really no such thing as too much as long as it is valid dialogue.  Beware BAD dialogue, pointless dialogue, info-dumping dialogue, back story dumping dialogue, repeating the previous chapter for the slow reader dialogue (they got it the first time) and a miriad of other bad habits.

What is your promise?  A writer and a reader have  a contract.  The writer must deliver.

Enough conflict.  100% agree.  Kill your babies.  Make your favorite character suffer.

Consider your target market.  Again, this is less about telling a good story and more about selling a predictable story.  I’ll pass on that idea.  If I can write something that is worth writing, I shouldn’t have to tailor the plot points for my market.  Case in point – I will not go the Peter Jackson (Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit) route.  I am not Hollywood and I’m not going to add in a romantic sub-plot to every story to meet market requirements.  (Both LOTR and the HOBBIT had romantic subplots that were not in the books and SUCKED) The story will be the story.  PERIOD.

Don’t understand point 8.  I guess so.

Distinctive voice.  I certainly hope so.

Spell check.  Too many times.

Adverbs, adjectives and too long sentences.  There is a right way and a wrong way to handle these elements.  I like long sentences as long as the principal noun doesn’t get lost.  Again, who are we writing for?  I do make a point of breaking up my pages into paragraphs with a mix of short and long sentences plus a lot of white space between dialogue and shorter, one-line paragraphs.  I hate to see a big blog of black on a page.  Adverbs?  I use them depending on their type and placement in a sentence.  Never in the ‘he said’ ‘she said’ tag.  That’s horrible.  Adverbs of frequency or a well placed adverb is ok but sparingly.  Adjectives?  To a minimum but I don’t see a problem with them.

Imprecise or nonsensical?  Not sure what they are getting at here but …. I would hope so.

Profanity.  I generally keep profanity to a minimum but if you are appealing to a certain market …. like they stated earlier, then who the fuck are they to say what is and what isn’t appropriate where profanity is concerned?  The nerve.

I use passive voice when the characters are being ….. well, passive.  Duh!

Pretentious writing …. Preaching.  I love to preach.  I give my characters a voice and they spew some of my political and social opinions.  Why the hell not?  They are my characters and they aren’t stick figure people.  So they occasionally see the events in their lives from a bigger point of view like politics or societal concerns.  After all, whose opinions am I going to put into their mouths?  But yeah, I don’t want it to come off too preachy.

The rest of the points are more or less self explanitory.  As you can tell, I am a strong believer in doing your own thing.  If it works …. if you are satisfied with the result and think you wrote a good novel.  Ok.  Be happy with that.

I had a potential reviewer turn down my short story collection because at one point, a Mexican character said, “Damn, Gringos.”  Obviously, a racial slur, in this particular case against the cultural genocide of the USA and their prevasive dominance in art, television, movies, music etc.  It was written in jest and not to be taken too seriously but this reader slammed the book and refused to read any more.

Am I to now tailor all my writing to avoid offending anyone?  Should I be worried that my book might have been more successful if I had left that part out?  Hell NO!  I hardly bow down to Politically Correct standards in my day to day life … a concept that is unheard of in Mexico in the first place BTW, so why would I do it in my writing?

In conclusion.  Write what you want to write, the way you want to write it.  Use adverbs occassionally.  Try passive voice.  Start with a preface and don’t introduce you main character until chapter 4.  If it is a good book, it will be a good book with or without the so called RULES of writing Pap, commercial, fluff, pulp fiction for the dumbed down masses.

You just might come up with your own style and be recognized as a trail blazer.
Or in the worst case scenario, your crappy novel will be crappy on your own terms.  (We’ve all written some dung but at least it was my  dung …. following someone else’s formula wouldn’t have changed that)

Cheers.

David Gordon Burke
Find my books here.  

More Platform Building & Twitter Tips

To continue the tutorial from the other day, there are a few other tools out there  to help you with your twitter account.  I use an android app called ´Unfollowers´ – this lets me purge my account of people who are not following back.  Since your ability to follow new users (People who potentially WILL follow you back) is linked to the ratio of people following vs. those you follow, it is in your best interest to get rid of dead weight.  Remember, use all these tools in moderation because your account can get suspended or shut down if you are thought to be churning.  This of course is the LIE of twitter.  They claim the aim of the site is NOT to accumulate followers.  What a crock!

Another tool which I mentioned is Tweepi.  You really need to dig deep into this site to take full advantage.  There wyou will find a well documented analysis of your twitter habits within the tabs.  Followers / Following / Not following back / People you don´t follow back etc.
keep-calm-and-hate-unfollowers-1

For the people you don´t follow back, this could be a short sight on your part or you were blocked from following when you clicked on their names but it didn´t register etc. etc.  I regularly go through these users to find people that might help my cause. The criteria for following them is simple:
They have a massive following.
They retweet regularly.
Their page is in a language I understand or of my target market.

I got swamped by followers from the Middle East and Turkey.  No idea why they followed me – it must be they know something of the inner workings of twitter that I don´t know.  For a time my follower number went sky-high.  Looked really good but how is that helping me if I follow them back?  I did follow them back only to purge them a month later.  Now, if I get followed by someone who is obviously working the system, I just ignore them – no followback.

The next stage in my twitter platform is going to be ´friending´ these users with a MASSIVE following.  So I will begin to retweet some of their tweets in the hope of getting noticed.  This has worked for me on a few occassions.  One of my recent tweets went out to over 100,000 people in just seconds thanks to just three retweets.  Imagine that on the scale of 100 retweets – that is what I´m looking for from my twitter platform.
images (3)

Next on my promo agenda is to learn how to set up Email marketing.  Not a bloody clue how to do it, what it is etc. but apparently it is still the no. 1 promotional tool.  Will report once I figure it out.

Oh, and on a bright note, the month of July, which has been brutally slow in books sales, just provided me with three more sales.  I guess I´ll take what I can get this month.

David Gordon Burke
Find my books here.

Twitter & New Plans for Conquering Writer’s Block & Promo Hell

How’s that for a blog title?  In case it is unclear what I’m on about, let’s just say that the mounting stress over promotion has forced real writing onto the back-burner.  A lot of self-pub indie authors suffer this dilemma which in my case has led to a case of writer’s block.  Oh, goody.  It’s great to be me.

So what is the solution?  First and foremost, to remove the pressures of promotion.  Easier said than done.  Many of us have realized that the platform we build is nearly as important as the books we write.  Take away time from your promo and you almost guarantee that you are not moving forward.  My personal goal is a twitter following of 100k.  That’s one hundred thousand potential book buyers – not the same number of just anybodies who will followback anyone.  Hot to do that?
descarga (1)

Watch this youtube video.  It would take me too long to explain it.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZJqbdcyAdAM
As mentioned in the vid, it is possible to BUY twitter followers.  And yes, it could be beneficial in the long run since you are looking for a ratio of followers to people that you follow that indicates you are an expert in your area.  In other words, more people following you than you are following.  That’s not easy to do.  But regardless, the Tweepi page can get you going.  I am not nor will not buy followers so I’ll have to do it the old fashioned way.

It is also imperative that you manage your twitter account correctly.  You can get suspended if you CHURN … be forwarned. Also, you can only follow a certain number of people per day … the number is determined by your follow / followers ratio.  Big mystery there.

@dbwriterteacher is my handle at Twitter.  Come check me out to see what my tweeting strategy is all about.  How you write tweets and what you write has a lot to do with attracting followers.  I’m a MONSTER in this area and am beating the hell out of most of the people in my market area.  Nobody is doing what I do.

So the Tweepi system saves me hours every day.  In 45 minutes I have increased my twitter followers by up to 150 per day. The next challenge is to tweet.  That can also take up a lot of time.

Search for Dynamic Tweets.  It is fairly self-explanitory.  It allows you to program your tweets in advance.  I have my tweets laid out until the middle of August.  Today I will program my tweets until the middle of September.  Once that is done I will be free to wake up, COFFEE and write.  A short detour to Tweepi and then on to the important thing – WRITING.
images (2)

I hope to get the Novella I am working on into a well done first draft by the end of September.

That’s the plan.  Aside from these blogs which I also plan to create a schedule for … 3 a week until the novella is finished, I will stay away from all other promo and distractions.

So that’s the plan.  Now to get down too it.
Oopps, gotta go.  My cell phone is tweeting again.  New followers.
descarga

David Gordon Burke
Find my books here.

How to Write a Bestselling Novel

As I struggle with the whole ´Success´ issue in my writing, I begin to realize that the chances that a bestselling novel might come out of the depth of my mind is very unlikely.  Why?  Could it be because I truly dislike the model of the Bestselling novel?  Why would I want to write something that I myself didn´t like.
images

Of course there is the smallest possible chance that one day I will write somethng that will catch the imagination of thousands or tens of thousands of people but they will not be the Twilight, 50 Shades demographic.  I am not a fan of formulaic structure in writing or any kind of artistic expression.  I don´t care for the predictability of the $9.99 paperback pulp fiction that regularly makes it to bestseller status so apparently I´m shafted even before I begin.

Now there are some common variables within any novel – the three acts, Introduction, conflict, resolution blah, blah, blah.  I’ve heard how the first line, the first paragraph, the first page must be catchy, must contain action, must pull the reader in, must introduce the protagonist, must hint at future conflicts blah, blah, blah.  This of course is all great advice and will help you position your work in competition with the writers that churn out 5 to 10 bestsellers per year – ie. James Patterson.

None of my favorite writers or books work that way.  The books or the authors assumed a vestige of intelligence in the reader.  They did not figure that the first bite of the meal needed to be the most delicious in order to entice the reader to finish the whole buffet.

I’ve been in an in depth conversation with a group of writers about what is and what isn’t success.  My success has come in the last few days in the form of some great reviews I got for some of my books on Amazon.  What more can I ask for?  Well, an end to my current writer’s block, a bunch of new ideas for stories – enough to sustain me for five years or so, 100.000 twitter followers (@dbwriterteacher) with the urge to read my stories and the chance to write books that will grab people’s attention without having to conform to a derivative structure that really leaves little room for surprise at all.
enhanced-buzz-20724-1331591346-227
It seems strange that I started writing and scripting in the world of Fantasy comics because today I write REALITY.  So my motivation is not to come up with some McGyver type super-hero character that has a snappy first line while beating a villian sensless.  My motivation is to capture real people and real situations and hopefully people will identify with that.

Of course, this is not to say that I am not aware of the formulas, not interested in what works or what doesn’t work or how it all fits together but I’d rather write ‘The Life of Pi’ or ‘Cold Mountain’ than ’50 Shades of Grey;’
2Nwha23
David Gordon Burke
Find My Books Here.

My Favorite Topic – All About Me

It has come to my attention that I have never really put down in words my life history and the stages of my life that lead me to taking up the task of writing.  For those of you that would find this of little or no interest, thanks for dropping by and I´ll hopefully see you again soon in another blog post somewhere down the line.  For the rest of you, stick around.  My life story is hardly the stuff of action movies but it has been an intersting journey so far; here it is, My Life Story.

I was born in 1963 in a small town called Renfrew, Ontario, Canada.  By some coincidence, my parents soon moved to Ottawa, Ontario and took up residence on Renfrew avenue where we lived and maintained the family home until they sold and retired fifteen years ago.

My education was spotty at best.  I was a horrible student and the bane of all my teachers.  My only interest in primary school was writing and if I had been left alone, I am sure I would have persued that avenue but a nasty substitute teacher one day humiliated me and I lost the joy of writing.  Even still my only possible success through to High School was in English – and informatics as they called computer studies in those days.

My other first love was art but sadly I soon discovered I had no talent within that field.  Throughout my school days I was always amazed by people who could put a pencil or pen to paper and create wonderful images.  I eventually surrounded myself with a large group of people who did have the gift including an older artist named Barry Blair.  This was in the very early days of Barry{s career as a Fantasy and Action comic book artist.  Barry’s first self-published work was a series of black and white prints which he sold in local book stores, record stores and out of the back of his Triumph Spitfire.

Barry had created a series of home-drawn comics which included his friends as his side-kicks – This was the original Dragon Ring (in which I was immortalized as a character for one installment)  The title was eventually resurrected when Barry went professional and opened his own studio, Aircel comics which produced Dragon Ring, Elflord, Galaxina, Mummy’s Curse and a ton of other titles.

images

Prior to Aircel comics Barry had run a one man production company in which I help in logistics and story developement.  We also created a script for an animated movie featuring his Elf characters Hawk and Windblade.  All through my High-School years I wore a denim jacket with a Barry Blair original on the back and even today, 30 years later, people still remember it and ask me what happened to it.

During this time I started to get into music.  I had been told I was tone deaf during Junior High but I was determined to learn how to play the guitar.  Once again, lousy teachers made the challenge all the more difficult.  After 6 years of strumming my way through Country, Rock and Pop tunes I started to pick out bass lines on the lower strings.  I eventually sold my guitar, got an old bass guitar and amp and began playing in a variety of bands.  At first it was hard rock but I gravitated to blues.  At 21 I played my first bar gig at the Saucy Noodle on Somerset avenue (no defunct) with a four piece ensemble called ‘Totoise Blue and the Gravediggers.’  We modeled ourselves on the blues stylings of Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf.  Our leader was the meanest blues harp player I have ever heard – before or since.

Later I made my living for a while in a bunch of other bands and turned my hand to songwriting.  But the chances of success in the music business largely depend on luck and getting in with the right bunch of guys.  I wasn’t optimistic about the chances of that and soon turned to the 9 to 5 working world while getting my chops back on the acoustic guitar.

This lead to my discovery of the Spanish Guitar.  It took years for me to hunt down the sound I was looking for — I figured anything with a guitar and a Spanish lyric was all right with me.  I finally discovered Flamenco and fell into that bottomless pit for 8 years.  I did some recording and learned the most important styles but again, I realized that a Flamenco guitarist must go to Spain or die.

Since then I have played a bunch of other styles and have made attempts at keeping a band together.  I even learned the Diatonic Button Accordion that is the most popular instrument here in Northern Mexico and for a brief period played in a group in Canada called ‘ Los Chipotles.’  (Don’t blame me for that one …. I didn’t pick the name)

These days, when not trying to find the plot and theme for my next novel, I specialize in Delta Blues played solo on a steel string guitar.

Music aside, I despise cold weather so in 1997 I packed bags and moved to Mexico.  I have been here off and on since then. I am married and own a home in the west end of Monterrey, Mexico.  Of course there is Rose, my half lab, half shepherd mutt who is my constant companion, muse and star of my book ‘ A Rose by Any Other Name – Life Lessons from an Unremarkable Dog.’  I teach English and write and cook (another passion of mine) and now blog and slowly am becoming a bit of a twitter expert.  That’s about the story of my life, highlighting my creative side and all the things that lead me to take up the pen and try to write.

You can read more about Aircel Comics here!

So to end today’s post, the real reason I write.  I got yet another review today for my short story collection – Mexican Mutts, Tequila Pups and Chili Dogs.  That’s two reviews in two days and the best part is they are reviews from perfect strangers.  This is the true success and satisfaction.

untitled

A short but sweet review.  Four Stars.
July 17 / Teri L
I enjoyed this book very much.
An engaging read that brought laughter and tears. As a dog lover, I enjoyed this book very much. The stories are heart-warming and meaningful on many levels.

So there you have it.  Hope those that stuck around to the end didn’t drop off from boredom.

David Gordon Burke
Find my books here.  

Yet Another Review

As the month ticks away and sales continue to NOT rack up, I’m still able to take some comfort in the fact that reviews are coming in.  Yet another today, this a four star review for Mexican Mutts, Tequila Pups and Chili Dogs.  

untitled

A very engrossing, enjoyable read
July 17, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The book is a collection of short pieces, stories interspersed with newspaper articles, the latter concerning animal cruelty in Mexico; but isn’t that the case everywhere? The stories are presented as true accounts fictionalized. They will appeal to dog lovers, of course, but really their appeal is universal. The first story, for example, is about a reluctant dog owner — not the most lovable guy, perhaps, but likable. There is a truth in this amusing story about human/canine relationships, as you will see; oh by the way, dogs can sometimes outsmart humans.

The stories are a poignant telling of humans and dogs: engaging stories with interesting, well-defined characters (both human and canine).

I certainly have to take some satisfaction from that last line.  Some people get my stories, others don’t.  While the stories center around dogs, it is really the human characters that define and drive the tales.  I’m ecstatic that another reader has gotten it.  COOL!

David Gordon Burke
Find my books here.

Sales Down – Reviews Up

So sales this month have been disasterous.  Quite a let down after last months record sales.  But I have to look on the bright side which is that new reviews have been slowly coming in.  I got two new reviews in the last few days.

A Rose by Any Other Name – Life Lessons from an Unremarkable Dog
Print
This is a great story about a boy and his dogs, from childhood through adulthood.

Burke is careful to keep the relationship real with his best friend and companion throughout his life and writes with a great depth of caring for his animals noting that our role in their lives is that of *caregiver*. The first thing that grabbed me was a quote he used in the beginning *Dogs are miracles with paws*. Truer words were never spoken.

The author’s style of writing is clear and concise and it leaves the reader with an incredible vision in their mind’s eye. The fact that he includes photos here and there makes it even more special, and in the end, you feel like you know him, his family and his animal companions.

I was impressed that Burke’s Dad demanded responsibility from his son making sure that the yard was always clean and that *poop patrol* was always an ongoing activity.

Burke eventually marries and moves to Mexico and his stories of street dogs there is enough to break even the coldest heart. As an advocate for these animals he shares a plea and a link to film documentary in an effort to stop the overpopulation of Mexican street dogs.

The book is available for Kindle and also in paperback. It is a fun read for animal lovers and those who enjoy great true stories!

Mexican Mutts, Tequila Pups and Chili Dogs – True Stories of the Dogs of Mexico

untitled

This is a very interesting and unusual read, mixing short stories with newspaper reports highlighting the mistreatment of dogs in Mexico. The mixture works well and the author entertains the reader while also making important points about the plight of man’s best friend. I don’t believe you have to be a dog lover to enjoy the quality writing but I guess if you are like me a dog owner, then there is an added appeal to the book.
The short stories are quite varied although always having a canine connection. There is a great story about a father bringing up his two children and the family dog that causes havoc in the house. There is a more serious crime story involving police friends and even a story about a dog kidnapped for ransom.
All in all, a thoroughly entertaining read!

I guess I´ll have to enjoy the kudos here.  Overall the message is clear – I can write and need to keep at it.

David Gordon Burke
Find all my books here.

How to Make a Million with Ebooks

Well, it certaily would help if you were living in Mexico so your million would be a million pesos instead of a million dollars.
descarga (2)
But seriously, success within the world of self-publishing via Amazon, Smashwords, KOBO and the other various distribution channels is within the grasp of many of us, depending on our expectations and business plan.

My plan for success has little or nothing to do with getting on the bestseller’s list or selling hundreds of thousands of copies. Sure, it would be nice but the chances are slim, the competition is, aside from brutally unfair, MASSIVE and I don´t have the requisite thousands of dollars to invest in promotion (PAYOLA) … besides which, while I chase this dream I still have to live a life, make a living, pay the bills and take care of the miriad of other distractions that keep me away from literary nirvana.

So how does one hedge his or her bets and diversify the investment of time and effort in order to turn a non-selling book or series of books into some kind of success?

In my particular case it is easy.  I am an English teacher.  Not an English lit teacher of the type we loved to hate in High school or University but rather an English as a Second Language teacher.  I write fiction (mostly stories about animals … dogs …. along the lines of the classic dog fiction we loved as kids) and I write language tutorials.

I have developed a system that guarantees a person will understand the grammatical structure of English in record time.  I can explain it to anyone within an hour.  Then it is up to the student to apply what they know and study.  A motivated student could be well on their way to being bilingual within a couple of months usiing my system.

So this has raised my prestige within the realm of my career.  I get the top contracts and am probably one of the best paid English teachers in all of Mexico.  I work a gruelling 12 hour week and live a wonderful life.  And my English fiction doesn’t do anything to harm my reputation either.

Anyone can follow the example.  What are you good at?  What expertise do you have?

Obviously the recent changes to the Amazon policies of book borrowing have put the non-fiction, short tutorial writer in the worst possible light.  Let’s face it, all those people who have been trying to cash in writing 20 page fluff tutorials have ruined it for serious writers.  Outsourcing the writing?  Let’s find these people and line them up against a wall.  I’m the first volunteer to be the trigger man.

But that doesn’t mean that all non-fiction tutorails are without merit.  I consider my tutorials to be a much better value for the money than my fiction simply because they serve to improve people’s lives.  Ok, my fiction is entertaining but reading it won’t get you a better job.  Knowing English will.

Write some non-fiction stuff to help someone – pass along your knowledge.  Just don’t do another ‘ How to Make Millions with Amazon Kindle’  – it’s been done to death and let’s face it, big stinking LIE!  Once you have a valid tutorial or two, blogg it, add new chapters and additional information that your readers or followers can use.  I have a Spanish language blog to help my ESL students and to promote my ESL books.  Pay it forward.  It is all worthwhile.  A payback will come of it in the end.

So the best developement as far as my particular case is that this week I was offerred a captial investment to open my own school.  The project is in the planning phase and will hopefully start enrollment in January 2016.  We are going to start small with a rental local and room for 4 classrooms.

So whether I ever sell another ebook again isn’t and has never been the priority.  The books themselves have brought me the kind of luck and success I deserve after 20 years of toiling in the classrooms.

How can you diversify your ebooks and turn them into your own version of success?

Good luck with that!

David Gordon Burke
Find my ebooks here!

A Big Decision

I am in the process of looking into the other distribution channels for Ebooks.  The recent changes at Amazon has had a negative impact on sales – this after working like a mad-man for the last couple of months to get my sales up to the level they obtained in June which was one sale or borrow per day.  My best month ever and then the new Amazon rules have made all that work for nothing.  I´m more than a little burned.

So I have been checking out the other distributers.  Smashwords, KOBO, Barnes and Noble, Apple etc.
descarga (1)

In the meantime I am putting the finishing touches on a bunch of projects and launching a new book – this a fiction piece that will probably turn out to be a novella.

I have been throwing around names.  It´s the story of a Dog what wanders the neighborhood, interacting with people and listening to their stories.  A classic hero dog story.

My first working title was ´Conversations with Sammi – A week in a Stray Dog´s life´ which is pretty descriptive and indicative of the story and which works in a few Amazon key words.  Tricky.

But the title didn´t POP.

I am messing around with a few new ideas.

There´s Something about Sammi the Stray
A week in a Dog´s Life

or

Something about Sammi the Stray
A week in a Dog´s Life.

I hope one of those titles combined with a cool cover much like the Mexican Mutts cover will be a step towards building a recognizable brand.

Also giving some thought to my first sequel.  More Mexican Mutts, Tequila Pups and Chili Dogs.

All the while I am trying to find a new genre that I can move into.  I have the novella fairly well outlined.  Am working on a crime novel and a Horse story as well.

So that´s all that´s happening.  That and a massive amount of time spent tweeting and promoting etc.

Back at you when there is more to report.

David Gordon Burke
Find my books here.