Tuesday, November 17, 2020


     No, this isn’t about the election or anything related to it.

     My regular Gentle Readers will already be aware that I have a new book out: Antiquities, a short romance novel set in my “Onteora Canon” fictional America and timeline. As is usual with my novels, it’s not selling. Now, I’m not deluded about the breadth of enthusiasm out there for my sort of stuff. But I have...had hopes for this one: a romance with a musical backdrop and core motif. To say the least, those hopes have not yet been fulfilled.

     A little earlier today I was over at Written Word Media, looking for a date on which to hold a giveaway of Antiquities, and noticed this:

     ...so I looked into it. The New In Books feature claims a Romance readership of over 600,000 readers. To have them pitch Antiquities to that subscriber list would cost me $499. Expensive!...but possibly worth it. So I did a little arithmetic.

     Antiquities is priced at $2.99, and I get approximately $2.00 for each Amazon sale. Therefore, 250 sales would cause the promotion to pay for itself – and 250 is only 0.04% of that subscriber list. Inasmuch as the book is inexpensive, and romance readers tend to read a lot of romances, I figured the odds would be with me. So I gritted my teeth, plunked down my $499 – via PayPal, of course – and sat back to await the day chosen for the promotion.

     It was not to be. I’ve just received the following email from NewInBooks:

Hi Francis,

Thank you for your recent NewInBooks Book Launch purchase for Antiquities to be promoted on 12/8.

Unfortunately, your book was not approved by our editorial team, and we are issuing you a full refund.

The primary determinant in these decisions is what we know about our readers and their habits, and the team felt that our current NewInBooks readers would not engage as actively with the book as we might hope for our authors. This is no way a judgment on the quality of your book.

Grant S
The Written Word Media Team

     Note this in particular: “your book was not approved by our editorial team.”

     The NewInBooks “editorial team” didn’t read Antiquities. They didn’t buy a copy, and I didn’t provide a copy to them gratis. They rejected it on the basis of a very brief description – less than 350 characters – much like the one at Amazon.

     I shan’t pretty it up for you. This is, if not the last straw, pretty damned close to it.

     A writer who has no readers, and has no way of attracting them, has no reason to continue. This is particularly the case for a writer of fiction. It’s a difficult, tiring, and frustration-filled undertaking. Why struggle on if no one is reading what I’m producing?

     Over the entirety of 2020, a year when eBooks and indie writers have logged phenomenal sales, I’ve sold a grand total of 143 books. That’s not even enough to cover what I’ve paid my cover artists. And I refuse to give my work away. I’ve done that several times, and I don’t even get a decent number of reviews out of it. Besides, the books are inexpensive already.

     Now that I’ve learned that I can’t even buy a paid promotion, I’m thinking of saying sayonara to the writing of fiction. The really painful part about that is the awareness that, should I do so, I won’t be missed.


Unknown said...

I will miss your work. I've got everything in the Onteora County canon and have enjoyed it throughly. I just purchased this book and will be reading it tonight.

Unknown said...

I have enjoyed everything in the Onteora County canon, and I'm looking forward to reading this one tonight. So I will miss your new works if you stop writing - and I'm sure others will too. - Jennifer

Eaton Rapids Joe said...


Tracy Coyle said...

I have written some fiction, the reality is that it isn't that good and certainly not something that I've made an effort to have published.

I have self published 5 non-fiction books over the last 8 years, with a grand total of 19 sales (not counting those I purchased to give away).

But, it was never my goal to be 'read', my goal was to write.

I've got most of your books, reviewed some. I follow this blog because I appreciate your writing, not just the published works. And I expect to continue to do so.

I looked over the weekend and have purchased 781 books and rented (Kindle Unlimited) another 144 over the last 6 years. I currently have 9 backlogged, something that generally doesn't happen. I have spent the last four months in the transgender YA category and am somewhat focused in that arena.

Your books do not fit in a neat category (for me...maybe for a lot of people) and I think that causes people to skip them. I personally am glad I didn't skip the first book of yours I came across - a recommendation from another site.

Know that some of us remain loyal regardless of your long term choice.

I read a new author (to me) last week: nine works. Like with you, I wanted to thank her for her works and how much they impacted me. (I consider one of her works to now be one of my top 5). And I found out she died in 2016...

I doubt she sold thousands of books, the genre just isn't that big.

I hope you find peace about the entire process. I'm around.

Bill said...

Hi Fran I have read all of your books (at least all that I know of), mostly on Kindle unlimited, until Mr. Bezos told us he didn't want money from conservatives. Since I cancelled Kindle I haven't read any, but to get to the point, I have enjoyed EVERY one, even the ones I didn't think were my cup of tea. I urge you to keep writing, and I will buy Antiquities.

ligneus said...

But there must be some satisfaction in having created a little world of people and places and events and a story no? You can't just leave them in the lurch!
I think I've read all your Onteora books, wasn't Antiquities published a couple of years ago? I seems familiar so I haven't bought it.

furball said...

I will miss you. I also have everything you've made available, and just purchased Antiquities. Yes, I'm one of those jerks who might have waited til you made it free on Smashwords, or something.

SecessionIsTheAnswer said...

Hey now Mr. Poretto:
While I will admit that 2020 has been a tough year in many ways and we have had our differences at times online ( although under my protonmail address I have tried to offer tech assistance at times ), I would encourage you to buckle up and stay the course.

You are without a doubt a great writer/ novelist and run a great blog. I have purchased all your books in the "spooner federation", "realm of essences", and "futanari saga" series, all under my wife's name, as I am no fan of amazon/bezobum, but kindle has its merits. In any case all are great books, riveting plot and character developments that draw you into the story and put you inside the characters as you read it. You can't ask for more! And running a blog is no easy task, and while I sometimes find myself in disagreement with you on specifics - it's never been a situation where I want to breakup our anonymous blog relationship. Not that you care LOL.

So although in actuality I know nothing about you or your situation, I was surprised by this post from you. I am certainly not in anyway qualified to give you a scolding, but as indicated above, with your talents and being a man of faith, do not throw in the towel!

Now I will admit because I work in tech I have been very busy and the summary plot line of your new novel seemed like a significant change from the norm, which usually has individual rights winning over some governmental/totalitarian/evil entity, I wasn't immediately motivated to make a buy online. I will submit to you that marketing is a thing, perhaps a critical thing? Sadly this is not a skill I have.

That said I will go ahead and give your latest a go. Your novels have yet disappoint me. So while my purchase will not a best seller make, I am confident you have quite a loyal following. Please don't let government generated economic chaos, slow initial sales of a novel, and rejection from some knucklehead group make you put down your pen. All the great characters in your novels persevered against the odds and so should you.

Vaya con Dios,

Gary Griffin said...

Mr. Porretto,
I have paid for most of your books. I reakky enjoyed your Sci-Fi fiction. I wanted a follow up to THE WARM LANDS. I don't like romances generally.. Yes, will mourn the loss of your writing. Thank so much.

HoundOfDoom said...


As one of the few who actually purchased your book, I'm feeling I can be more informal.

According to my kindle, I'm 38% through your book now.

For those who have red your other books, they will find the writing style to be vintage Porretto. A lively read, easy to understand, challenging on multiple levels, and compelling. When I have a spare moment, you are my go-to for relaxation.

The world will be poorer for the loss of your writing. That being said, you have to do what's best for your clan. If the sales and satisfaction don't justify what must be a monumental investment of time and effort on your part, then it's rational to consider halting, even if temporarily, your writing efforts.

It's early morning (predawn), and this is off the cuff, so let me close with the words of Banksy "Don't quit, take a break".

Linda Fox said...

You don't speak/write so others will acclaim you. You do so, that you can encourage the few who do listen. You do so, that you can die knowing that you have given your all to the fight.

You do so, because every voice/keyboard that is added to the fight is just another brick in the Wall - that big, beautiful Wall.

NOVA Shooter said...

I finally get to say that you're wrong about something. You are wrong that you won't be missed. I've got (I think) every book you've written. While some are more to my taste than others I have enjoyed everything I've read.

I don't blame you in the slightest mind you, but you will be missed.

Margaret Ball said...

I expect Antiquities got rejected because it didn't fit the romance formula. Romance editors expect you to stick to the formula. I could go on about that; until we paid off the second mortgage, I was making a nice living off of romances. But the formula drove me crazy.

Even though I'd describe Antiquities as a sweet romance intertwined with a science fictional plot, for romance readers it is something of a square peg for a round hole. You may have saved money, because I really don't think they are your target audience. They want to read the same damn story over and over again.