Monday, August 15, 2016

We should all be very worried!

A recent event in the music business caused me to take brief pause in my writing. Singer/songwriter Paul Simon is quitting the business. Now, I’m not the hugest of Paul Simon fans. I do like his music, and his impact on folk rock history is solidified. It’s the reason why he’s quitting that has me, as an artist, very worried.

Paul just released his 13th solo album. He states in interviews that he worked extremely hard on the songs and he thinks they are some of his best. But as the “drop” date neared, something horrible and unexpected happened. The entire album was already on the internet for free! All the hard work Paul put into the music was now available without cost to anyone who wanted to listen. You can imagine Paul’s disappointment and his feelings of “why bother doing it anymore?”. As an artist, I understand the creative urge and the inner desire and addiction to produce. The intensity can be all-consuming at times. I myself have recently come upon profound shock and disappointment.

At this post, I have written thirteen novels, eleven of which are published through Amazon. Four have hit #1 in their genres. One book, DROP OUT, even broke the top 100 in the entire Amazon store. You would think I’d be extremely proud of these accomplishments since the average indie author sells less than fifty copies, and I am… I am also saddened by what I discovered. I have become the Paul Simon of writers.

My books have been pirated. Over the last year, I’ve watched my sales slow and my royalties lessen. I’m not ignorant of the business, I know a book has only so much life in it, but when my KENP pages also began to dry up, I did a little research. With some internet digging, and ignoring the Google unsecure site warnings, anyone can now download my books in PDF for free. It was a shock at first, seeing my books in document form available to anyone with an internet device, but then the depressing reality sunk in. The notion of writing as a livable profession, like nearly every other art form, is going to disappear.

What can be done? I don’t see a solution. Encryption will only be hacked. Mass sharing of material will be the norm. A reader need only type a title into a search engine and the book will appear for them to read. It’s happened to music. It’s happened to photography. It’s happening to every art form. It’s a devastating blow to those of us who have spent decades perfecting our talents.

As a serious, obsessed, compulsive writer, I can only swim with the storm and continue to do what I do best. Nothing can stop the future and technology from advancing and changing our way of life. Art as a paying profession is dying. Unlike Paul Simon and his music, I am not going to quit writing… I can’t! But the dream of continued fame and fortune grows fainter as the time spent writing becomes more of a novelty and not a serious form of expression and escapism.  

Thursday, August 4, 2016

How to go viral?

The title of this post may be a bit misleading. It is not a lesson on winning the viral lottery. This is a curious plea for answers. I was surfing Facebook this morning and I came upon several videos that caught my attention causing me to pause and click. Two were funny animal posts (which I love), two were posts of people doing dumb things, and one was of a car accident (morbid sense of curiosity).

When I looked down at the number of shares for these videos I was astounded. The average was five million views, with one dog-baby video currently at more than thirteen million. What sets these videos apart among the thousand per second that are being uploaded every single minute of the day? Why do these videos soar across the internet while other more fascinating, funny, or intriguing videos disappear into the insatiable cyber universe? How does something go viral? What is the secret? Why this post and not that post? Why? Why? Why?

Over the years that I’ve maintained my blog I’ve had a few posts go “somewhat viral”. One post even received more than 100,000 hits, if you combine Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and several other social media sites. But millions and millions of views just on Facebook? How is it achieved?

Monetary benefit is not important to me at this stage of the novel writing game, it’s exposure that’s priceless. Eleven of my books are published on Amazon and a viral post could catapult my career. Going viral opens doors otherwise securely locked against success. Ask Rebecca Black, her critically and brutally trashed song ‘Friday’ went viral with more than 97,000,000 views, earning her well over a million dollars selling advertising on the page.

So how do you do it? How do you create the diamond post that changes your destiny forever and shines amongst the vast sands of the internet?

I wish I could tell you.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Personal Update

Just a quick update to keep my followers in the cerebral loop. I'm working on a new book that is a stand-alone story but also book #2 in the End Time Series. It is based on an idea I've had and kept in the vault for years. The subject-- what lies after the end of existence.

As I've mentioned before the going is slow with this one due to the near perfect stretch of summer weather and a new world of opportunities that have opened. The writer in me says sit still and stay put in front of that computer, but the human in me says get out and enjoy life. It's a constant battle that feels like an incessant, nagging voice in my ear.

Though I have done almost no marketing or promotion for the last three months my books are still selling, albeit at a much slower rate. My KU pages are pretty substantial so I know my books are being read, so that's a good thing. But what continues to amaze me is the number of hits that this blog still receives on a daily basis. I truly appreciate the interest and vow to keep up with posts and information. Last month this blog was hit more than 35,000 times, averaging 1,200-2,500 hits per day. All I can say is... wow! And... thank you!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Enjoy life!

Progress with my new novel is going slower than I anticipated. It’s hard to focus on storytelling during these long, lazy summer days. That’s okay… I feel content. It wasn’t always this way. Two decades ago, when I decided to focus my life energies on making it as a novelist, a slow-down like this would have driven me to the asylum. Thinking back, boy was I hungry to make it. Hour after hour, day after day, year after year… rain, snow, or sunshine, I would be in front of my computer tapping away at the keys like a woodpecker against a concrete tree. Stories were born and novels written. In my mind, the sacrifice was completely worth it.

The excitement of being a committed writer; the dizzying highs and terrifying lows, came with the territory. Ten years into the process, I acquired a top NY agent with a top literary agency and I thought I had made it (even contemplated quitting my day job to focus on my books). What a wonderful and exciting time in my career.

It was also around this era that the writing community got wind of Kindle’s new, so-called ereader. Some were curious how this would affect writers, others like me were terrified that the book world would collapse and there would be no hope at making a living writing books. My agent was also worried as he witnessed ebook sales soar and literary agencies and publishing houses begin to close. The days of agents and publishers nurturing new authors were becoming extinct. Unfortunately, that meant lightening their client lists.

I was devastated when I got the email and cancelled contract that my agent sent and that he and I were parting ways. My world came crashing down.  I’d spent more than a third of my life in pursuit of a goal/dream that had now been shattered. I’ll admit, I thought about giving up the craft entirely.

Weeks passed.  Not writing left me with an enormous amount of free time and boredom caused me to delve into the world of indie publishing. At the time, I had eight completed manuscripts sitting in a drawer so I figured I had nothing to lose. Half-heartedly, I paid a formatter and cover artist to get one of my sci-fi books, AFTER in shape for Amazon’s distribution. The field of ebooks was millions smaller at the time and I truly believed that no one would be interested in electronic books. Readers want the feel of paper and weight in their hands. For several days, I checked the sales stats about once an hour for naught. Then it happened.

I got a sale! Someone out there in the world had bought a copy of AFTER. I was elated, jubilant, over-the-top excited. I had sold a book! I WAS A PAID AUTHOR! Everything changed after that! Realizing that my time and opportunity at this new market was limited, and that soon everyone in America was going to write and publish a book, I spent every second of my free time learning social media, the new market, the best sites to promote, networking, and getting my books out there. Six months into it, I sold my first book overseas. A month after that, I hit #1 in my genre for my book DROP OUT. Sales continued to increase the more effort I put into the process. Weeks were spent plastered in front of my computer screen. Seasons came and went, and then years. My books sold all over the world. Four hit #1 in there genres and several have broken the Amazon top 100 in the paid store. I would label that a success.

So, why air my emotional closet after I have stated that my writing has slowed? Because for the first time decades I am comfortable with the thought of not writing or marketing today. I am okay with taking a walk by a glistening lake and enjoying the experience of a beautiful summer day without thinking that if I don’t write or market my work my career will come crashing down. It won’t. To paraphrase a line from my last published novel the #1 Amazon best seller, AS IT IS IN HEAVEN, “The ultimate purpose and the reason for autonomous life is to enjoy.” And to that I guilt-freely say, I will!

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Discouraged… nothing less

There have been a lot of changes to Amazon and how it sells books since I broke from my agent and started on this solo indie adventure.  A few years ago, the process of self-publishing an ebook was much simpler. You wrote a manuscript, edited, formatted, designed a cover, uploaded the file, and poof… it was available for sale all over the world. If the story you wrote was any good you just might have sold a bunch of copies. If you were hard-working and totally devoted to your craft, you just may have eked out a little living from your endeavors. But for how long did it last? Not long at all.

In a competitive market, Amazon had to adapt quickly to keep its authors and new source of generous royalty income from being eaten up by other publishing sites. How did they do this? By introducing Amazon Prime. Authors had to pledge their allegiance to Amazon exclusively if they wanted the numerous benefits offered by this service. Of which I did, and I’m not complaining one bit.

However, as in all industries there are those unscrupulous individuals who uncover flaws in the system and will extract as much from it as they can before being caught. I’m talking about the Kindle Unlimited program where authors get paid by the number of pages read. I am also a participant in this program and highly recommend it as a means for readers to discover new authors at no cost to the readers. Sounds like a great idea until you realize that a small group of so-called authors can produce vast amounts of nonsense books with massive page counts only to have their friends download them and then the “author” gets paid for the pages.

So, why do I care when I’m not abusing the system? Because these people are siphoning the funds that are supposed to go to legitimate authors who’ve written legitimate books. Where I once believed the KU program was a beautiful gateway bypassing the traditional publishers and their arrogance, I now see it as a means to get hucksters rich. I will stay in the program (of course) because I want my books available to the masses; I just hope a better lending system with better safeguards will be implemented before the KU author fund runs dry.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Lots of visitors!

Wow… it’s been a while since I checked the visitor stats on this blog and I must say I am impressed at the amount of hits I have been receiving. Last month, this blog received more than 25,000 hits. That’s more than some book sites that sell advertising. Yesterday alone 1,350 people clicked on and checked it out. I sincerely appreciate the interest.

I must apologize for not keeping up with recent posts as much as I wish I could. Life was simpler when I first started this blog five years ago and I made it a point to post something about writing every other day. Excitement was always in the air. The ebook craze was in its infancy and the market new and ripe for the picking. I realized the potential for a global audience, left my prominent NY agent, and spent months refining my manuscripts. I hired professional cover artists, editors, and formatters to tweak everything. And when I finally released them onto the world through Amazon and a few other outlets, it became an amazing journey to the #1 best seller spot that I chronicled obsessively.

Relating the experience and excitement of seeing four of my books rise in the ranks to hit the #1 spot in their genres was the most gratifying time in my life. Almost daily, something wonderful occurred and I would relate it on my blog. My entire writer’s journey is chronicled here from day 1.

Fast forward to the present. My books still sell at a good clip compared to the vast majority of indie writers struggling to get noticed but the market has become saturated and readers have become wary of the infinite number of books and unknown authors flooding the virtual shelves. It’s not easy anymore to snag a promotional spot on the big websites and the number of minor (money-sifting-from-desperate-author) sites offering services is astronomical. There are book review services, marketing services, Facebook friend services, Twitter friend services, scams… you name it. It’s just not as wondrous to be an author as it was when the field was bright and new and raw talent got you a loyal following and thousands of book sales.

I wish I could post every day what is happening in my writing career but the honest truth is that the pure art of writing itself is just not that exciting. The romantic notion of a genius creating in a solitary room just doesn’t make for much interesting banter. Blogging about my latest story only goes so far. True, I am writing a new novel and there will be times that exciting things and happenings will lead me to post and I will let my followers know when they do. In the meantime, keep checking in. I feel excitement brewing in the cosmos.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Selling books.

I’ve been an indie writer going on five-plus years now and on a whim I decided to try and calculate the number of books I have sold throughout my career. Results were a bit unexpected. Combining my eleven published ebooks with my print versions (when they still existed) I have sold more than 100,000 books.  Another 120,000 books have been given away as free promotions. That’s nearly a quarter million copies of my stories circulating the world.


So why aren’t I rich and my name world famous? With those kinds of numbers you’d figure I wouldn’t have to work a conventional job. Excluding that I like having health benefits and a nice retirement portfolio, why aren’t I living off my royalties?


The same technology and global reach provided by the internet also has a few pitfalls. The major one being, my books are electronic. They can be shared. They can be copied. They aren’t tangible materiality. They exist merely in cyberspace. In other words, readers aren’t willing to pay the price for a paperback or hardcopy that they will for an ebook. It’s an ethereal commodity.


I accept these facts and the loss of income from a low royalty rate. I don’t write because I believed it would answer my monetary aspirations and bring me fame, I write because I have too. The inner voice never goes away; never quiets its incessant ranting.


Thousands upon thousands of readers have discovered my stories and the reviews have been overwhelmingly flattering. Yeah, a $3 - $5 dollar royalty per book would be nice, but would readers have purchased my stuff hardbound in a brick and mortar bookstore if the internet and Amazon didn’t exist? It’s a trade-off I’m happy to live with.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Nice new reviews!

Got a couple of nice new reviews for DROP OUT and IMAGINATION from some awesome readers! Thanks for taking both books to the #1 bestseller spot on Amazon!


5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful story.
By paula on June 7, 2016
Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase

I loved this book. Makes you stop and think. Not take for granted the life we have. Bad things happen to good people, but we must carry on. With kindness peace and love. I will be reading more from this author.

5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
By Patricia Romano on May 16, 2016
Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase

Different, engaging, and worth the read!

5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
By Amazon Customer on April 25, 2016
Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase

Surprising self-reflection colorful details and language.


5.0 out of 5 stars Before you go
By bobbie ventura on April 27, 2016
Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase

What if your life was only someone else's imagination? What would you do, think, say. I wasn't sure I would like this book but once I started reading I couldn't stop reading. I recommend this book to those of us that like to think what if and outside the box,

5.0 out of 5 stars WHO AM I
By Robert Gale on April 22, 2016
Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase

Very well written.
You won't want to put me down

5.0 out of 5 stars Imagine...
By Linda on April 14, 2016
Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase

This is THE most imaginative book I have ever read: a world within a world, within a world, etc. It certainly gives a new perspective on imagination. Good read.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Judging success?

Neglecting to market my books and myself has always been my weakness. While I love the process of writing (creating new characters, worlds, and plots) the arduous task of promoting my work can seem dauntless at times. After writing consistently for 25+ years, I recently made the conscious, and I must say extremely difficult decision, to take a break from it all. I have gone thirteen months without publishing an original book and as of right now, two months have passed without me writing an original paragraph. It’s a horrific truth to admit!

That’s not to say there haven’t been some exciting moments in the past weeks. My last two major promotional campaigns brought four of my books to the Amazon #1 spot in their genres, and several hit #1 in their sub-genres. I write dystopian, sci-fi, paranormal, action thrillers, and literary fiction… so I am quite pleased with the results. I have a wide-ranging audience and have received enough 5-star reviews to believe that I possess some talent beyond the mediocre. For this, I am proud and thankful.

But how does one judge success? What were my original goals when I set out in my early teens to be a writer? At what point do I proclaim I have achieved “IT!”? My entire twenties, thirties, and half of my 40’s, were spent plugging away at my keyboard 30 – 50 hours a week; week after week after week. I lost friends, missed out on good times, neglected my family, all to achieve what I believe is my purpose in life. To write stories that effect change in a reader’s perspective on the world.

Contrary to the way this post comes across, it is not my farewell message to the world of imagination. This post is not a resignation letter that I have exhausted my creativity and said all I need to say. Rather, it is an airing of dirty laundry of sorts. The guilt of not writing has weighed heavily and for a few months I feared I had lost focus on my purpose as a human being. Life, especially as enriched as mine has become in recent months, can change your perspective of what’s really important; happiness vs. purpose vs. self-fulfillment?

When I finished my last book, AS IT IS IN HEAVEN, I took my own advice I had written and concentrated on doing what makes me most happy; mainly gardening, fishing, landscaping, and hiking. After time, I realized that what my happiness boils down to is the process and ability to take these life experiences and create something from nothing… to write about them in fiction form. And as soon as I publish this post I will be starting a new novel.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Reviews… what do they mean?

The free promotion for my book, IMAGINATION is long over and now, as I had hoped, reviews are starting to roll in. This got me thinking as I read people’s opinions of my story… what do reviews really mean?

If you’re trying to do marketing on major sites such as Bookbub or Booksends, reviews mean you must have a minimum of them to even be considered for an ad spot, and the majority better add up to four stars or more. Logic being, higher reviews helps weed out books not quite up to par. Seems fair, right?

What if I ask twenty of my friends to buy my book and leave reviews? (Better yet, I buy it for them! At $0.99, it’s a bargain for twenty fresh, glowing 5-star reviews). Or maybe, if I’m a college student, I’ll ask my class, or my dorm, or maybe everyone I work with, etc. You get the point. Reviews are like plastic flowers, they may look pretty displayed on the mantle, but they have no true substance.

I got my first ever 1-star review for one of my books (out of hundreds of reviews for my eleven published novels) and the very same day I got a 5-star for the very same book. One reviewer said it was unreadable while the other said it was incredibly well-written and he/she couldn’t put it down. Who should I believe? These readers are not my friends, but total strangers. Another example is my book DROP OUT which has 60+ reviews, all from complete and total strangers. 92% are four or more stars with the large majority being 5-star. Nearly everyone who reads DROP OUT is affected by it and many people write me personally, yet, there it is at the bottom, a single, solitary, lonesome, 2-star review.

Everyone in the world has their own personal likes and dislikes for books. It is the same with movies, and sports teams, and food. (I hate sushi!). Does my review of the awful sushi I had at a restaurant mean that restaurant serves awful food? No! It is a matter of personal opinion. With stories, each one will affect a reader differently because each reader relates and identifies to different things in life!

So, when that first 1-star review comes in and smacks your brain leaving you wondering how this person couldn’t have liked the story you’ve poured your heart and soul into, remember… not everyone likes everything all the time! It is what makes us unique as individuals.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Good results!

After three days as a free promotion, I can finally give a few results. As of this post, IMAGINATION is at #2 in its genre and hit #37 in the entire Kindle store for freebies. That's pretty amazing! There are literally tens of thousands of free books every day and to hit so close to the top ten in the country is a huge accomplishment. Now, if I can just get all those downloads read and reviewed I'll be able to take IMAGINATION to a new level of promotion.



Thanks everyone!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Blow your mind freebie!

When I first began writing IMAGINATION, I envisioned a book which would propel readers beyond the norm and into realms where the utterly unbelievable was possible. I wanted to blow their minds! Fascinated by the physical and psychological endurance experienced by POW’s during times of war, I knew prolonged periods of isolation and injury invoked defense mechanisms of the mind. Part of this defense is to escape inside one’s own thoughts and memories. Tiniest details of imaginary worlds become crystal clear. Immersion becomes so deep, the lines separating reality and imagination blur. I pondered, “what if the people and relationships inside this created existence don’t know they are composed of thought?”. A story was born. Enjoy your free copy today!