The Indie Book of the Day Award

The Year We Finally Solved Everything has been awarded the Indie Book of the Day award for today, August 9th, 2012.

You can find a link on the Indie Book of the Day website here.

Nice to see that it was nominated by fans and selected by the editorial committee.


Searching for Shan Won

Well, thanks to Google Alerts, I’ve stumbled upon this blog/op-ed/review of The Year We Finally Solved Everything that also relates to the very current grumblings going on in Washington regarding raising the debt ceiling.  Here’s a snippet from the complete post:

“After watching Obama’s presidential address, and Boehner’s (Republican Majority Speaker of the House) laughable follow up, on the great debt debate currently gripping the nation and stalling our economy, I found an even stronger parallel between current events and a book I recently finished reading.  The Year We Finally Solved Everything by Rudolph Kurkhoven , in a nutshell, is a book about making a choice to either face reality and deal with what you have been given or run in search of what you hope will be a magical solution to all your problems.  I highly recommend this book for your summer reading list, especially if your job address ends with D.C..  I picked it up from the Kindle store for 99cents.”

On a side note, I find it interesting that the reviewer makes it sound as if the book is actually set in the United States, presumably just to make it simpler to explain for her readers.  Perhaps she thinks it’s set in Vancouver, Washington?  Probably not…

People Love Free S–t!

So, The Year We Finally Solved Everything is now free at Amazon for… I don’t know how long.

I made it free at Smashwords about a month ago, hoping something like this might happen, but then after a week I figured that this was silly and put the price back up to it’s usual and exorbitant $1.99.   Last week I noticed that it was free for the Nook, and then today I saw this…

I’m not sure how long this will last, but I’m not complaining.  I always thought of The Year We Finally Solved Everything as a little book that is near and dear to my heart, but wasn’t destined to sell much or make much.  Well, now it’s not making anything, but it’s selling a lot.  Like, hundreds of copies an hour.   I’m pleased, to say that least.

So, hell, if you’re an author whose written a little book that you don’t care about making money off of, try making it free at Smashwords (assuming it’s been approved for premium distribution) and see what happens.

Review for “The Year We Finally Solved Everything”

A double day for The Year We Finally Solved Everything.  It’s the KindleBoards book of the day, and it just so happened to be reviewed on Big Al’s Books’s and Pal’s site as well.

Here’s the review:


Shan Won: It’s a country. It’s an internet rumor. It’s a hoax. It’s paradise.

The economy is crashing, the government is unstable, rebellions and wars are erupting everywhere. If there were, maybe, a place you could go, a place where They Have Solved Everything – would you try to get there? What would you offer? What would you risk? What would you leave behind you?


I mentioned to Al the other day that I was having a hard time writing this review. “This book is so good!”, I said, “I’m not sure what to write except, Everyone go read it. I’ll wait”. He suggested I might want to say something about the book, so here goes.

There’s a joke told in Canadian Literature classes: Americans tell stories about people going out and conquering the west. Canadians tell stories about people who go out to conquer the west and get stuck in Manitoba.

The Year We Finally Solved Everything is a very Canadian book. It’s ironic that I, the Canadian reviewer of this team of ‘Pals’ unknowingly selected it. And that’s perfect, because the irony doesn’t stop there. Take Richard, the narrator and protagonist of the story. Richard is a graphics designer who likes music better than pictures. He’s a pessimist who hopes to find an island paradise. He speaks when he knows he should be silent, and stays quiet when there are things he desperately wants to say. He’s complex, for all these reasons, yet in the end he’s simple: You (and he) know that given the choice, Richard will choose not to act, not to take responsibility even for himself.

Kerkovian’s writing is flawless, his dialogue exact. The book’s pace is wavelike: Richard drifts tidally between each breaking moment. All characters and events are described through his distancing eyes. He notes everything, participates in nothing. You know the characters in the book as Richard knows them, precisely, accurately, but not intimately. The tension between the action – and a lot of stuff happens – and Richard’s dissociated description of it makes for a fraught atmosphere. By the latter part of the book I was feeling physically tense as I turned pages, waiting anxiously for “the next thing” – I knew it was coming, and I had no idea at all what it might turn out to be. And readers, you’ll have no choice but to go through that tension. Trying to ‘cheat’ and turn to the last page won’t help you a bit. You’ll go through it just as I did – as Richard does – step by indeterminate step. And, when you get to the end – well, just go read the book. I’ll wait.


You needn’t be Canadian to enjoy this book by any means, but you will likely enjoy it best if you can approach it with an open-minded appreciation of the pervasiveness of irony in the world.

Format/Typo Issues:

No Significant Issues

Rating: ***** Five stars

Six Months to the Day

So, it’s February the 20th, which makes it exactly six months since The Adventures of Whatley Tupper went live on Amazon’s DTP (now KDP).  I started this blog primarily so that other unpublished authors interested in self-publishing could have an idea what to expect.  So, how are things going?

First, an updated sales graph:

You can actually see the slope of the graph change from Christmas onwards.  It begins a little to the left of the last big spike, which was my Kindle Nation Daily sponsorship.  Overall, I’m pleased.  I never had great expectations about how my ebooks would sell–honestly, I expected one a week, or so, at least for the first few months.  So, now that I’m averaging a couple a day since Christmas, I’m pleased.  I think anyone who is self-publishing for the first time should be pleased with that.  Yes, there are the Amanda Hockings and Victorine E. Lieskes and H.P. Malloys who went from complete unknowns to extremely successful writers in a matter of 6 months, and rightfully serve as an inspiration to many.  But, they are the outliers.  They’re the outliers of outliers.  The Adventures of Whatley Tupper has sold around 450 through, and it’s generally been in the #20 000 – #50 000 ranking range, which still puts it ahead of almost three-quarters of a million other ebooks.  If you’re a self-published author, that’s how much competition you have.  So, like I said, I’m happy with what The Adventures… is doing.  I didn’t get into this to make money.  I self-published to get my writing out.  Anyone who’s written for a long time and suffered through countless rejection letters knows what I mean.  You just want to get your work out.

I should make a point about The Year We Finally Solved Everything.  Unlike The Adventures…, there’s nothing gimmicky about it.  It’s not genre fiction.  I’m not sure what genre it fits into, perhaps on the edge of Literary, which is why it sells much, much less–probably at a ratio of 1:10 compared to The Adventres….  If you look at all the top self-published books, they are all genre books, with thrillers and paranormal romance (of course) being the biggest sellers.  I do feel (although this is just what my gut tells me) that Kinde owners don’t represent a complete cross-section of readers.  I think the people who would be more inclined to buy a more ‘literary-like’ novel are the same people who are reluctant to give up paper books.  Combined with the fact that such books are rarely ever big sellers, I expect The Year We Finally Solved Everything to continue selling like this.  That said, I’m still planning on releasing another similarly-non-categorical novel later this year, and I have no expectations of it selling a lot.

So, six months in, I can’t complain.  The entire process has pushed me to write more than I have in years, which is perhaps the most important consequence.  I feel like I have a voice, even if it’s a small voice, and that’s fine.  I never wanted to yell.

Finally, I wonder what things will look like in 5 years.  I don’t mean in regards to my sales, but instead concerning the model of self-publishing.  Right now, Amazon dominates, and, honestly, I like it this way, because I think Amazon has a very good model that is good to authors.  But, who knows what will change.   Because it will.  And hopefully for the better… hopefully…

KND and The Year We Finally Solved Everything (Part 2)

So, two days ago, The Year We Finally Solved Everything was the KND sponsor, and my goal was to sell 40 copies.  I sold… 35, which is roughly half of how things when with Whatley Tupper after this amount of time.  Not surprising, and while I’m a little short of my goal, it still pretty much pays for itself.  And this doesn’t take into account anyone who downloaded the sample only to purchase it a week or so later.  As well, if this leads to one or two reviews, it definitely makes it worthwhile.

Overall, even though this KND sponsorship wasn’t as successful as with “The Adventures of Whatley Tupper,” it’s still by far the best paid promotional tool I’m aware of.  Nothing else has come even close to directly paying for itself (and I’m aware that advertising isn’t meant to immediately pay for itself).

I already have two more KND sponsorships in waiting.  One is for Whatley Tupper again (in mid-January, hoping a lot of people got Kindles for Christmas), and one for my upcoming choose your own adventure, “The Redemption of Mr. Sturlubok” on April 30th.  I’ll write more about my plans for the release of that book later.  Right now, Daniel and I are on track for finishing the draft in January sometime.  Should be good…

KND and The Year We Finally Solved Everything

Today, “The Year We Finally Solved Everything” is the Kindle Nation Daily sponsor.   When I last had a KND sponsor for “Whatley Tupper,” I was extremely impressed with the results.  However, I’ve always felt that a choose your own adventure for adults is a much easier sell than a dramatic piece, and looking at how the sales of each compare, this seems to be true.  Generally, “Whatley” seems to outsell “The Year…” by a ratio of 3 to 1.

So, my goal is that I sell 40 copies today of “The Year…” and perhaps notice a little bump of Whatley as well.  40 would pay for the sponsorship, which seems like a good goal.  But, we’ll see.  I’ll post an update tomorrow.



The Trap of Self-Promotion

I was inspired by a comment left to one of my posts about a month ago, about how author self-promotion is a myth.  It’s been something I’ve been thinking about quite a lot ever since, and it’s encouraged me to work harder.

To explain…

I wrote my first novel in 5 weeks when in was 22 years old in 1998.  I made it up as I went.  It had several titles, eventually I went with “El Presidente.”  It was more of a test to see if I could actually write a novel–I tried starting one when I was in high school, but I couldn’t put together a story on paper that was intricate enough to warrant 50 000+ words.  After that first novel though, I wrote another one in 4 weeks that same summer.   It was called “Well Past Midnight.”  This one, I thought was going to it.  It would be published.  After all, how many people actually write novels?  And good ones, at that?!

Of course, it never got published.  It wasn’t good, but more importantly, I didn’t have a clue about how to get a book published.  But I was young, I was full of ideas, I could type quickly, and kept working.  The next year, I finished my third novel in three months–a long, drawn out process, I thought at the time–a science fiction novel, “How the World Ends.”  This one, I really focused on the editing, revising five, six, seven times.  This was unheard of for me.  All told, I spent a year on it, and felt that this might be my masterpiece.  I’d already accepted that my last couple novels were crap.  This was it.  I’d learned how to submit to publishers, I thought.  And of course, nothing happened.  So, I spend a year and a half on my next novel, “Decaf,” and that seems like a really long time.  Surely, this will be the one.

I wrote my fifth novel a year later, “The Affluentials,” but it took me nearly a year to write the draft, then a year to edit it.  I felt that this had a better chance at getting published.  It wasn’t science fiction.  It was about a man who worked in an office.  And I’d never once worked in an office.  So, unsurprisingly, it was never published.

I started to get the point.   It wasn’t easy to get published.  My next novel, I spent a year writing the draft, and a couple of years editing it.  “The Importance of Being Keegan,” it was called.  I still like the title.  The book, not so much.  Tried getting it published, no luck.  I’d realized that writing is a long, drawn out process.  There was no need in rushing things.  If was ever going to be published, it would be one something that I had really taken my time with.  I used to write every day, every other day, but soon I was writing once a week, maybe once a month.  I’d start a new draft and give up on it.  I had many false-starts after this.   I didn’t want to write for the sake of writing.  I wanted to write something I felt strongly about.  And so, I stopped writing.  I always thought of stories, but I didn’t write.

In this same time, I worked on and off on “The Adventures of Whatley Tupper,” with my friend, Daniel Pitts.  We emailed back and forth, but it was leisurely.  Again, there was no rush.  This book would probably never be published, so why hurry?  This book took three years of writing, two years of editing.  Five years to pen 100 000 words between two people.  Hardly efficient.

Things changed slightly with when I wrote the draft of “The Year We Finally Solved Everything” in the first half of 2008.  It came to be faster than any book in years.  But I still couldn’t publish it.  I had more bites than ever before, including some fantastic editorial advice from Arsenal Pulp Press, but no contracts.  I wasn’t surprised, it was just a fact.

So, when I learned how easy it was to self-publish, suddenly everything was up to me.  I could release anything I wanted.  I could blame no one else.  I started with “The Adventures of Whatley Tupper” because it seemed like an easier sell.   I would spend hours a day online, trying to find ways to promote it.  I became obsessed with checking sales reports, checking forums, checking my inbox, checking Amazon discussions, checking, checking, checking.  Excited when my sales count would tick up.  When someone expressed some interest in my book.

But I wasn’t writing, and that’s what I need to be doing.  After years of not expecting to get published, I forgot how to write each and every day.  But, if there ever was a time to write for the sake of writing, this would be it.  Now, I know that I will be able to publish my next book.  The only question is, will it be any good?  Well, I won’t know until I write it.  And so, I need to keep writing.   I need to find that spark, that energy I had when I was 22–not because I was young, because I’m still young–because I was oblivious to the hurdles that faced me.  There are no hurdles anymore.

OK, this was rather long-winded and off-topic, but these last few weeks, I’ve written more than I have in years.  And, more importantly, I feel good about what I’m writing.  Whenever I feel tempted to check out KindleBoards, I think I should write instead.  Hell, there’s only so much self-congratulating one man needs to read.

There’s no better promotion than someone reading your book, thinking it’s great, and telling someone else–whether in person or online somehow.  The more books an author has, the more this will happen.

The Year We Finally Solved Everything (pre-release)

Just what the hell is a pre-release?  Well, it’s when an author feels 98% confident about his book and impatiently wants to get some free/cheap copies out while his wife does one last read-through to look for any remaining typos.  So, this is my pre-release of “The Year We Finally Solved Everything”.

I’m just trying to get as many copies out as I can right now before I do any proper promotion, hoping that the same blogs that reviewed “Whatley Tupper” will be willing to review this.  So, it’s free at Smashwords right now and only 99 cents at Amazon.  If you’re interested, click here.