Kindle’s Top Three: Week 51

In Kindle’s Top Three, I want to highlight the best selling books at the beginning of every week, and express all the rage inside me that I’m not in there. Not really. In all honesty, I think it’s important to look at what’s in the top coveted three on Kindle’s best seller list because, really, don’t they deserve some sort of recognition?

It’s that time again (actually this is the second time I’m doing this), but it’s the time when we look at Kindle’s Best Sellers and congratulate the authors on a job well done. So what does it take to make it to the top of Amazon’s Best Seller list in week 51? Disclaimer: I haven’t read these books but maybe I will?

 

#3 The Atlantis Gene: A Thriller by A.G. Riddle

I’m not familiar with A.G. Riddle, but what’s immediately evident here is the The Atlantis Gene is the first book in a series that’s already become a global best seller. Hats off to A.G. Riddle on that, because this is a common theme among Kindle’s success stories – write a lot, and release. Since this was released in 2003, the author has gone on to sell over 2,000,000 copies, and you can see that it’s lead to a growing fan base. This book alone rising to #3 on Amazon with 4 stars and 13,638 customer reviews. That’s a pretty phenomenal number for a book that’s been out only 3 years. Especially given that it was the author’s first. You’ll also notice it’s available in multiple formats. Like maybe all of them.

You can check out more from A.G. on Amazon here.

 

#2 Wait For It by Mariana Zapata

Just doing some initial homework on Mariana it looks like she’s published six titles on Amazon since January 2014, and that her work has earned a spot on both the New York Times and USA Today Best Sellers list. No small feat. Is it hard to see why?

Her titles are original, and provocative. Again, I haven’t read any of these, but I’m drawn to stories that depict incongruous characters. The person who has their shit together, but can’t find love. The person who’s driven by passion, but not crazy about the opportunity that’s in front of them. The person who’s kind-hearted, and conventional but has a base hunger for something society deems crass and inappropriate. All of it goes back to the internal conflict we feel when we want something and pursue something better than what we have. It’s that conflict that makes it so difficult to make a choice, and to make sacrifices to get it. Is this ok? Is it worth it? Will I still think so when I have to put in more work to keep it? Will I shut something out because it came about through some unexpected channel?

Shit, that’s all my perspective. Sorry. Just wanted to stress that it gets me thinking about diving into Mariana’s latest title, Wait for It, which has been out only a few weeks and has already made it to the number 2 spot on Amazon’s Best Seller list on the strength of 381 customer reviews averaging a 4.8. That’s pretty fucking impressive.

I know what you’re thinking. I’m not much of a romance reader. Me neither. But having read her amazon page and her website, Mariana seems like a wordsmith, and a compelling writer. And her ideas are relatable. A genre’s just a canvas to tell a story. It’d be a tragedy to narrow your reading to the same one all the time.

Congrats, Mariana! Check out her Amazon page here.

 

#1 Sisters One, Two, Three by Nancy Star

Nancy Star is a powerhouse and certainly someone to follow on Amazon if you’re not already. Her latest, and the number one on Amazon’s Best Seller list this week tells the story of reconciliation within a family that’s coming to terms with its past. If it sounds like a Hollywood film, it should. Nancy Star’s been writing novels for a while, but also served as a movie executive for over a decade. She’s spent a good deal of time sorting through material from books, plays, films, and pitches. Enough time to pick up on what a good story looks like.

And it looks like this is the first title to appear in the top three that takes advantage of the advanced release feature on Kindle. It’s set for release on January 1st, 2017, but has still earned a 3.9 average rating from 373 customer reviews who thought to take advantage of Kindle First.

I’d have high hopes for this one if you’re into tales of family reconciliation and contemporary fiction.

Not too shabby, Nancy Star. Check out her Amazon page here.

 

Week 51 Conclusion: This week’s group is as eclectic as they come. The number three spot went to someone who’s reminiscent of another Kindle Best Seller who blew up writing a series of books, but did none of his own marketing. The second went to an exciting author who’s ideas are really compelling, they’re relatable, and hopefully they keep coming. The top spot went to someone who’s been writing, and dissecting work for her whole career. Check back next week (maybe) to see what’s in the top 3 of Kindle’s Bestseller list, and if you’ve read any of these books feel free to leave a recommendation below!

Calling all Writers, Creators, Entrepreneurs, and Artists

I want to talk to you about ideas.

If you want to share a story with me about an idea you had that you pursued recklessly from the moment you felt inspired, be it in a blog, in a recorded video interview, or in person in Austin then feel free to contact me and submit your story. Just email [email protected], and let me know what story you’d like to share in as few words as possible, and tell me if it’s the first moment you realized you could start a business, you could write a story, you could make a film, or anything that made you say “oh shit, I can do this.”

The point of this feature is to emphasize that there’s a singular moment where you have this simple idea, and you see a clear path to execute. And you hear a lot about success stories after people have become successful, but few people share their stories about the moment they came up with that idea. This is meant to highlight those stories.

Let’s talk about your business idea, your novel, your short film, your painting, or any other project that just hit you like a ton of bricks and share how it happened.

Contact: [email protected]
Include:

  • Name
  • Format (blog, skype, in-person in Austin etc.)
  • Idea (business, networking group, novel, song, whatever it is) ex. “I could build a social media marketing company”
  • What you were doing when the idea hit you
  • The steps you were able to identify as necessary to make it happen
  • How did it go?
  • How long did it take to get somewhere?
  • How many challenges did you face?

You don’t have to include all of that. You can make it as concise as possible and answer any of the questions above that tell the story.

Writer to Writer: Phil Machi

Writer to Writer is a brief feature I’m doing in which I email a writer and ask a quick question about writing. Simple enough, right?

Alright, so writer to writer is expanding in scope to not just be about novelists, or journalists, or books, but to be about anyone who engages in an act of storytelling. Last week I shared a story about meeting Bruce Springsteen for a picture, and he’s certainly a writer in every sense of the word, book or no book.

This week, I’m Sharing a brief conversation with a comic book author/artist because I started getting curious about how the medium changes the creative process. I think that inherently the biggest problem with any writer, or artist is having that spark of creativity and knowing where to start in crafting for whatever particular medium you’re working in.

So, this week I reached out to author, illustrator, director, producer, and everything else, Phil Machi, whose latest work Orientation is available now in Bookpeople, as well as online here.

Anyway, check out his site, here’s the question:

“Do you always come up with your comics as images first, do you develop words/concepts first, or is it a mix of both?”

And he answered.

“I would say it’s the story first. But of course there are always exceptions. Mostly though, I am thinking of images to properly execute the story. But sometimes I will imagine a character design or an environment that I think would look interesting and then I work backwards to see if I can fit that in someplace.”

So it boils down to telling stories. I wondered where dialogue fit into the equation, and asked a follow up. He clarified the order for me.

“It’s usually story/basic dialogue, visuals, better dialogue. I was changing dialogue for Orientation right up til the very end.”

So there you have it. It all boils down to story and the words. At least a skeleton of words before it becomes visual. Generally. Pretty interesting, right? Be sure to check out Phil’s site, and the many different projects he’s got on there.

Writer to Writer: Bruce Springsteen

Writer to Writer is a brief feature I’m doing in which I email a writer and ask a quick question about writing. Simple enough, right? Well, today I actually got a book signed by Bruce Springsteen at Bookpeople in Austin. This is a musing on why we like to meet artists and what I said to Bruce.

Ok. So, Bruce Springsteen is one of my favorite artists of all time in any medium. He’s got passion, presence, dedication, and all of it comes together in a way that nobody else on Earth can replicate. Seriously, watch the Super Bowl Performance, or the Hammersmith Odeon show, or this version of Thunder Road. If you don’t get it after a few views, I’m not sure what to tell you. The man is a story teller. The man’s energy is contagious. The man, the boss, is a living testament that you need to dive into your passion and seize it. Listen to the story at the beginning of Thunder Road, and to his delivery. This is a man who sees something majestic and powerful in everything around him. He could write an epic poem about his last trip to the grocery store. And you can feel that energy in the 1,000 plus people waiting in line for hours to get approximately 10 seconds with Bruce for a picture.

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As cars drive by, drivers shout from the windows with a morbid curiosity twisting their face, “who are you waiting to see?” The people shout back with smiles from ear-to-ear, “Bruce Springsteen,” and nobody’s getting tired of it.

Now for some math. The crew walking around handing out wrist bands inform us that about 1,000 people signed up. Bruce is able to do about 400 pictures in an hour and I can’t help but wonder whether that’s more exhausting than a 2.5 hour concert. 400 per hour. That’s about 9 seconds per person. Everyone on this line is going to get something like 9 seconds with Bruce Springsteen to take a photograph and say something quickly. I’d been thinking about it, telling myself I’ll get about 30 seconds. How could I be so naive?

So, I stand nervously on the line, not really living up to the human-being who’s sociable. Instead I’m looking at my phone, getting a bit more panicked every corner we turn that gets closer to the front door. I’m practicing the wording in my head like I’m auditioning for a national commercial. And what the fuck am I going to tell him that he hasn’t already heard? Love your work? What’s the secret? Back to the drawing board.

As we get closer to the door I’m getting goose bumps and people around me are playing songs on their phones or in cars passing by. I hear “She’s the One” and I think of the Hammersmith Odeon. I hear “Tenth Avenue Freeze Out” and I think of the Madison Square Garden performance after 9/11. These aren’t just musical performances, each performance comes with a baptism, a sermon, confession, and your last rites. Forgive me if I didn’t name all the right things, I never really got into Catholicism. Like Bruce, my family just wasn’t into that sort of thing, and if they weren’t I didn’t see a reason to go back into religion.

I walk into the front door of the store, the staff indicating wrist bands should stay to the left and head up the stairs. It never dawned on me that people would be in this store doing regular shopping while Bruce Springsteen stood two floors above them and forever out of reach. We’re getting closer. It’s been two and a half hours since I came and saw the back of the line. I’m seeing men and women walk out with books, their eyes glowing, wondering what they said or they did. Some of them just saying “that was incredible,” some women saying “I kissed him,” or “I told him I loved him.”

And I wonder what’s going through his head. A new person every ten seconds, everyone of them expressing some form of adoration for his work. We get up to the top floor, and I look down. I’m probably somewhere in the middle of the entire crowd. He must be exhausted by this point. People are now hyperventilating as they approach the door leading into the room where Bruce Springsteen stands ready to snap a photograph.

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I walk in the room. Totally impressed with the crew he’s working with. There’s a handful of guys in suits, and bookstore staff. The suits are queuing up the line to move them forward in a timely manner, and the bookstore staff are taking people’s phones/cameras to take a quick picture. They’re rotating out. It’s an impressive operation. It’s my turn now. The guy in front of me just asked if Bruce thought the Giants would beat the Eagles. He said Giants. Fuck yeah, Bruce.

My turn. And avoiding the whole “I’m a professional writer…” fake bullshit trying to relate to Bruce Springsteen I focused on not stumbling over my words. I’m now being ushered to stand next to him. He puts his hand on my shoulder for a picture, and smiles. And I say “Thunder road put my daughter to sleep more times than I can count. I thought you should know that.” And his response? “I like that.”

Writer to writer it was a pretty fucking cool moment. And it was totally worth a 3 hour wait outside just to get a chance to shake hands with the boss.

Here’s two pics.