When Amazon Buys Heaven

Heaven Pic


There you stand before the Pearly Gates,

Waiting in line, realizing where you are,

Trying to figure out how you got there.


When your turn comes, you’re amazed:

No St. Peter, not even a clerk to greet you;

Nothing but a touch-screen monitor.


You must search through millions of obituaries,

Looking for yours on Amazon’s new obit site.

After hours of searching, you finally find yourself.


Your obit page has a head shot of you,

A blurb about your life, even product info,

Like gender, height, eye color, and age.


A yellow button catches your eye: Apply now.

You click it. It takes you to a form to complete.

Apply to Heaven. Estimated delivery time: two weeks.


The fine print tells you it’s based on customer reviews.

Friend and family reviews don’t count.

You can’t beg for reviews; they must be volunteered.


In the meantime, you’re encouraged to leave reviews.

Will you stick it to people who rubbed you the wrong way?

What will be your basis for judgment?


So you browse through the obits looking for others.

You note glowing five-star reviews of obvious sinners,

And one-star complaints against peace activists and volunteers.


Celebrities have thousands of reviews, more good than bad.

Some of your acquaintances have no reviews at all.

You do them a favor, and hope someone reviews you.


Chris McMullen, author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers, Vol. 1 (formatting/publishing) and Vol. 2 (packaging/marketing)

Writing Is a Bad Romance

Bad Romance


It’s so easy to fall in love with writing.

Writing seduces you without you ever knowing it.

Subtle is its game; it doesn’t allure you through money, sex, or glamour.

Rather, it just seems like a good friend that grows on you.

You don’t realize you’re married to writing until your case is hopeless.

Writing: You can’t live with it, nor can you live without it.


The passion to write consumes you.

You must give it your full attention.

Even the slightest distraction must be avoided.

Just you and your writing. Alone. Together.

Long passionate nights writing and writing and writing.

It’s constantly on your mind.

You pull over in the car to write it a love note.

In the middle of the night, you wake up thinking about it.


It’s too much for you to keep it bottled up inside.

You crave to share your passion for writing with the world.

So you post articles on your blog.

Write a short story. Begin a novel.

You publish. You put your heart on your sleeve.

Now your writing is no longer a private affair.

Being a published author is like a celebrity dealing with the tabloids.

You thought the paparazzi didn’t care about small-time writers.

Oh, but they do. And, boy, do they ever.

Not only does everyone know about your writing relationship,

But everyone seems to have an opinion on it.


Your book is too different. We don’t like change.

Your book is too similar to what’s already out there. Such a copycat.

The sentences are too simple. Grow a vocabulary.

The sentences are too complex. Make it easy to read.

Your characters are too real. Show some imagination.

Your characters are unbelievable. We can’t deal with that.


Entertain me. Engage me. Hold my attention. Captivate me.

Have me begging for more.

Make me laugh. Make me cry. Anger me. Move me.

Give me a better life.


Design a perfect cover. Write a killer blurb.

Sell me your book with a gripping Look Inside.

Edit your book immaculately.

Write like a master wordsmith.

Develop intriguing characters.

Wow me with a sensational plot.

Market so I can find your book.

Is it too much to ask?


So many months of passionate writing.

More months of grueling editing.

Cover design, proofreaders, writer’s forum, blurb development.

Formatting, publishing, revising, learning.

Buzz, review copies, blogging, social media, website.

All that hard work, effort, imagination, and passion.


For what?

To sell a few books, then a lot, then a few, then a lot.

For praise, then criticism, more praise, more criticism.

For a few choice words to sting you like a poisoned dagger!

For that? Really? For that?

For a complete stranger to say two magically fantastically wonderful words.

Thank you.

To touch readers around the world.

To share your joys, your passions, your ideas.


Because you never, ever, ever, ever had a choice.

Writing had you when you first picked up your pen.


Chris McMullen, author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers, Vol. 1 (formatting/publishing) and Vol. 2 (packaging/marketing)

Whether you love writing or reading, Read Tuesday is the perfect occasion to celebrate either. Check it out.