Friday, December 30, 2011

Ah… sales!

Yeah! Sales are increasing! My blog is now averaging about 75-100 hits an hour. My Facebook Fan page has almost 3,500 “likes” and my Authors Den profile is averaging 100 hits a day. So, here’s the breakdown of all my promotional and marketing efforts so far. The newspaper article scheme did nothing for sales but probably exposed me to a few new people. I would recommend against it. The ads I paid good money for, like the Litopia and YA did almost nothing for sales. Perhaps, I got a dozen from them. They’re still running for another week so I guess we’ll see. The programmers I hired to code in my blog, well, you can see the results on my stats bar. I have a few really big promotions coming up. First, is my online publicist’s promotion, which starts in two weeks. This should blast sales according to her. I also have a few interviews coming out that I’ll announce. And the biggest plan of all is the one causing me the most trouble. I’m trying to place an ad campaign on Kindle Nation Daily, and bought the space, but it’s nearly impossible to get a hold of them because they have been swamped with authors after a national story on them exposed how powerful a sales tool the site is. They said I’d be in sometime in the next month. An ad on Kindle Nation Daily does wonders for sales and Amazon ranking, so it’s worth the wait. Also, most of my back link encryptions won’t affect sales for a few weeks. So, as it goes with my available books, things are definitely moving. As for books in progress. I’ve paused on IMAGINATION after 20,000 words written. The book is getting very ethereal and complicated, and I need the quiet of January to concentrate on it. Until then, I’ve been doing a final read on SILENT INVASION, the final book in a series and an updated rewrite of my 2003 release TIM MADISON GALACTIC WARRIOR. I’ve been thinking that the book is so good (in my biased opinion) and my author’s platform getting so much attention, that I might try and get another agent with it. Getting an agent is purely for my ego, I could probably make more money doing the book myself. We’ll see. Here’s the links to my latest ad’s that only cost me five dollars each to place. As I’ve said before, blog ads are a great, and inexpensive way to get exposure.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Excited to wake!!

As some of you may have noticed the counter for my blog has exploded. For the last week, I’ve been averaging about 600 hits a day and it’s going up. Yesterday, I got 1,700. It seams the search engine optimization is kicking in after all, and it will only get better over time. It’s a bit overwhelming to think that so many people are reading my posts and checking out the kinds of books I write. Every morning I jump from bed, come down to my office, and check my stats on my various sites. It’s all very exciting, but… truth be told, sales are not nearly increasing like my traffic. They have gone up a little, but not in comparison to the amount of traffic my blog and other sites are suddenly getting. I guess when you optimize you’re getting everyone in the world to take a look at you; readers, non-readers, people who don’t know how to read. Very few will actually make a purchase. I’m assuming as the months roll by that the number of people visiting my sites will be so large that even if just a very small percentage buy a book, and an even smaller percentage write a review or tell their friends, I’ll still be in business doing what I love. My advice to novelists is to get your books search optimized, and then throw a few cheap blog ads out there, along with getting on some book forums and commenting. If you’ve followed this blog you know what I’ve done to start getting these kinds of numbers. Please feel free to check my blog hits daily and keep track of what’s happening. And hopefully these will translate into sales.
Please “like” my Facebook fan page.!/pages/Facebook-Page-of-Author-Neil-D-Ostroff/124794694205967

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Come on readers!

The first ads of my winter campaign are live. The combined cost for both was $100. They will run for the next two weeks right on the home pages of these sites. This should give the ads about 100,000 views at least.

Now, I’m not expecting to sell 250 books because of these ads, which is what I’d need to break even, what I’m looking for now is exposure, plain and simple. As I begin to place ads all over blogs and writers sites, I’m hoping my covers will become familiar and sales will increase steadily as a result. I’ve got more ads coming and several interviews which I will post.  I’ve also been hiring programmers on that great site that I had mentioned in a previous post. Each task is $5 and I haven’t been disappointed yet. I even had one auto-program a response every time someone follows me on twitter. Give it a try:

If everything they’ve done is true (and they show you links to verify their work) then in about three months I’m going to be receiving tens of thousand of hits a day on my blog and Author’s Den site. I’ve hired about thirty of these programmers at a cost of $150, who do everything from setting up search engine optimization, to pinging, to programming tens of thousands of back links, and seo links, and placing my URL’s into directories… I don’t even know what the heck they’re doing, but supposedly, I should get crazy traffic in a few months. All I know, is that there are a lot of out-of-work programming geniuses out there with nothing to do all day but code.

I feel very set for success and I am already getting impatient for the results. This should be a very interesting year ahead. Merry Christmas to all who celebrate!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Facebook Fan Page

I just put together a Facebook fan page for Author Neil D. Ostroff.!/pages/Facebook-Page-of-Author-Neil-D-Ostroff/124794694205967?sk=info

I sent out a bunch of notices through social marketing and guess what? I already have almost 2,000 likes. The internet is just amazing! Anyway, I’ve got everything in place for my winter marketing blitz. I’ve got programmers and search engine specialist listing my book sites, I’ve got a an internet book publicist, and I’ve got ads and interviews galore in January and February. The only thing I don’t have right now is a professional website. still exists, but it is outdated and useless to me. I’ve been directing traffic to this blog and my Author’s Den site, but I know that looks unprofessional. I tried building a site on Godaddy, but found the applications complicated and haven’t set one up yet. I don’t understand how I can set up all these sub-websites like Author’s Den and Goodreads, but I’m having so much trouble with Godaddy?

As far as my experimental marketing efforts scored; the writing article did nothing to boost traffic. The Goodreads ads are generating some clicks and traffic, but not many sales; though the campaign is still in its infancy. Everything else I’ve done takes time for the search engines to get my sites into their systems. There should be a slow but steady increase in traffic over time, hopefully bringing in more sales.

Please visit and “like” my new Facebook fan page. Thanks.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Starting now!

It’s done! I’ve just put money into promotion. A pretty good chunk, actually. I’m starting with Kindle Nation Daily site. I’ve done some research and heard a lot of positive things about this site and what it can do for your sales. They even have a statistics page that shows you all the books whose ranking went down after placing ads. I signed up for two campaigns. One, the bigger one, won’t start until March, which is fine because hopefully there’ll be many more Kindle owners by then. The second should hit sometime next week. I’ll announce it. I also bought my first promotion. For five bucks this guy says he’ll place my blog link on his sites and utube channels that have 50,000 followers. I mean, for five bucks why not. I’ll know instantly if my page views go up. Next up, is contacting Substance books and getting that search engine optimization underway. Then, if off to update and work on my Facebook author page and Amazon Central page. Gotta get all the new reviews and descriptions in. I also bought three ads on the Goodreads pay-per-click. We’ll see how that works out. I was also thinking of contacting a newspaper to see if they’d like to do an article on all this I’m doing. Who knows? So, my credit card is a little hot right now, but my soul feels good. If this doesn’t work out at least I can say I tried my best in the golden age of indie publishing.
Just a quick update. I’m at 12,500 words for IMAGINATION. And here’s a link to a review that I discovered it by accident. It’s not too bad.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Going for it!!

My brother sent me an article the other day that inspired me beyond belief. I’ll attach it at the end of this post. Basically, it’s the story of a self-published success. I know, I know, I’ve read a thousand of them, also. But this one struck me different, mainly because this author did everything I have done to market and promote with one exception. She used the pay promotion on her sites and I have not. See, I’ve been mistakenly foolish with my numbers. I was putting book sales in perspective to an advertising budget, stupidly thinking I’d have to sell a Hell of a lot of books to recoup my investment. And that is a true fact. I’m gonna need a lot of sales. However, and even more important, I didn’t think about exposure and what that exposure could do to my sales in the long run. So, I’ve decided to ‘go for it!” and put a pretty large chunk of money into my promotional efforts. I feel I’m in a good place for this investment with eight novels available for sale and a strong network of author sites that I belong to. I’m ready to explode. I’ve decided to go with three different programs to begin right after Christmas when everyone has a new Kindle. The first is Goodreads click advertising. The exposure is huge with Goodreads since they have over 6,600,000 members. They will place your ad on appropriate genre pages and expose you to @ 150,000 readers. The drawback is that it costs per click. We’ll see how this goes. I’m going to invest a few hundred in it. The next is Substance Books. They have to accept your work to begin promoting it. I’m not sure exactly what they do because it has to do with search engine optimization and getting your book found on the internet. I research them heavily and discovered that they’ve been around for more than ten years and I found no negative comments. So, they must be doing something right. The last thing is a site I recently discovered call It’s a mega list of people that provide services for $5. I’ve never used it, but for a hundred bucks I can get twenty services. These include people putting hundreds of likes on a book or Facebook page, writing reviews, and posting your links to hundreds of people. This is more a novelty of ‘see-what-happens’. My experiment with the article hasn’t shown any significant results. I’m still getting about fifty hits a day on Author’s Den and my blog hasn’t acquired any mass numbers, either. There’s still a few days left of its circulation so we’ll see what happens. And as for my latest novel IMAGINATION, I hit the 10,000 word mark and the story is beginning to write itself. Love when that happens.
Here’s the article:

my site

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Love the interview!

Been doing the interview thing a lot lately and I think it’s starting to pay off. Not only does my name come up more often in search engines but I’m noticing visits to my blog and website are increasing. Of course, this could also be the result of my article experiment, which I’m waiting for the final stats. Speaking of my Author’s Den website, I recently signed on with GoDaddy to build a website myself that I can update, and let me tell you, it’s not nearly as easy as they claim. I spent several hours putting together something that remotely looks like a site, but doesn’t compare to what I have now. A call to customer service is in order.

One thing happened yesterday that I think is a little strange. I check Kindle sales daily and I noticed yesterday that someone bought AFTER on Kindle and then returned it. I find this a little unsettling. For all my books, you can read the summary or look inside the book and read the first few pages. If it entices than you must spend $1.25, that’s right, a whole $1.25 to read the book! Why would someone go through the trouble of buying it and then the hassle of returning it when they have every opportunity to sample for free and then decide? I just hope it doesn’t the book suck, because I’ve had some pretty good reviews so far.

Anyway, here’s my latest interview. Hope you enjoy it and take a look at my books.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Writing is easy

Do you know if you write a page a day that within one year you will have written a book? How many times have I heard that one? If that one book takes a year to write then the revision process would have to take many years. Truth is, writing a first draft is the easy part. I can usually belt one out in a few months. But the revision; forgetta’bout it. That’s the time consuming stuff, though I am getting better at it as I get older (and hopefully wiser). I’m also getting better as a writer. Ideas come more easily after so many years of living in my ideas and the process of getting them on paper is less time-consuming. For my new novel, I’m finding the plot twists are coming naturally and I’ve had quite a few ‘aha!’ moments in the last few days. Here’s a little secret about starting a new novel. Don’t worry about the perfect first chapter or getting that perfect first line. Just start jotting down a story. Through most of my books, I’ve completed about half of the novel when I usually go back and write new intro’s that incorporate the original intro’s, if that makes any sense. For instance, I thought I had the perfect intro for my latest. A shocking, get-right-into-the-action first chapter, when a few hours ago I came up with a much better start. One that the reader won’t be able to not turn the page. My original beginning is now chapter two. But, that intro catapulted me into the story so I could build a base. As of this post, I hit the 10,000 word mark and have a pile of notes about how the novel will progress. But since I don’t outline, I’m not sure what exactly will happen. The fun of this project is that with IMAGINATION anything can. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Getting it done

Hit 6,000 words today on my new novel. It's an easy and exciting write because anything can happen in a world that isn't real. I see the book getting a little deep in the philosophical area once the characters begin to realize the nature of their existences and how it all could just disappear. We'll see where the story takes me. Right now, I'm still developing characters and relationships and setting the scene for a wild ride through the possible and impossible.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Starting a new book

As some of you know I started a new book a few days ago. The title is IMAGINATION and it’s the wildest concept I’ve had yet. Here’s the preliminary tagline: (What if everything around us, our friends, our surroundings, the universe, what if all we experience is just a figment of someone’s imagination? And what if that someone is dying?) I’m very excited about this one as I’ve been thinking about this possibility for a long time. The book will be written in the style of one of my earlier works DEGENERATES. Five different characters and their sub-stories will all merge into one plot as they all come to gradually realize the truth about their existence. I will post updates on my progress. Right now, I’ve been averaging about two pages single spaced a day. I’ve got thirteen pages written. My block is usually ten pages, if I can write past that the book gets written. You’d be surprised how many books I’ve started that have gotten to eight pages when I decide it’s no good. So, this one looks to be a keeper.

In other news, there are a few sites that are promoting me at the moment. The first is an interview I did a ways back that is getting some online time now. It’s at:

The other is a featured excerpt from INSECTLAND. It can be found here:

All in all, the books are starting to sell and the new one is being written. So far so good, looks to be a productive winter.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Shot in the Dark!

Okay, well… here it is. The $55 article written for me. Now, the next step is the company will send this to three hundred article submission services, and people, and companies looking for content. My Blog address and Author’s Den address will be attached to the article so readers can connect with me. I reset my site stats to zero and will closely monitor that over the next ten days (the run I was promised). I average about twenty-five bio hits a day on my AD site and fifty to seventy hits a day on my Blog. I’ll let everyone know if these suddenly inflate. So, here’s the article with the keywords highlighted that I gave the company. You decide if it was worth it.

A Science Fiction Writer Keeps The Reader Hooked!

Readers worldwide have always yearned for an exciting adventure in the science fiction books and an expert science fiction writer does not disappoint them. They use their amazing imaginative powers coupled with an excellent knowledge of science in order to create the greatest works in fiction. There are many fans of these books out there waiting eagerly for the next big release. There is great curiosity among the readers whenever a science fiction novel makes headlines or receives critical acclaim. All the books based on this genre leave the reader in a completely different world while reading and sometimes transport them to the future.

It is not always easy for fantasy thriller author as the subject of the book needs proper handling.  Authors always reach the zenith of success by giving the right treatment to their stories. It takes tremendous power of imagination to write about aliens invading the earth, travelling beyond earth and the protagonist being in the possession of paranormal powers.  Books that have created successful television series or movies are a result of the imaginative thinking and the right placement of words by a science fiction writer.  These authors can keep the readers hooked on to their novels right from the beginning till the end.

Writers who author fantasy thrillers use many concepts that most of the people across the world cannot imagine even in their wildest of dreams.  Science fiction and fantasy thrillers are closely associated as both of them use fantasy, horrifying images, mysterious circumstances and superhuman capabilities.  A science fiction writer has to be convincing when writing about these abnormal characters and unbelievable adventures.  Even a slightest mistake while explaining a particular situation or character can take away the interest of the reader.  Thus, it becomes extremely necessary to plan everything well before putting all the imaginations into words.

The greatest challenge of those who author fantasy thrillers is to imagine something which is unbelievable and writing it in such a way that the audience do not doubt it while reading.  In a science fiction novel, a future is explained by keeping touch with the past and present simultaneously.  Most of the times a particular character or situation seems illogical, but it is explained in such a way that the reader is convinced about the superhuman tasks being performed by the protagonist.  A science fiction author takes utmost care to make sure that the reader lives every moment of the book.

While there are many reasons for the success of science fiction novels, a major one is the author himself.  A science fiction writer is solely responsible for the visualization and accurate presentation of ideas in the book. Critics also play a major role in publicizing the book as all their reviews are read curiously by the ones who are in need of a science fiction masterpiece.  The story and concept is the backbone of any science fiction novel and they must be well-planned before writing the book in order to keep a perfect flow of the novel.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Sacrifices made

It’s raining today. Drops slide down my window like translucent snails. Water puddles in the street. Worms tunnel up from drowning liquid and sprawl across the sidewalk. And here I sit in front of my computer belting out another novel. I forget who said it, but I remember a quote that summed up the writing life completely. The quote went simply; being a writer is like having homework every day for the rest of your life. And that’s true for the serious, passionate author. Not a day goes by that I don’t contribute in some way to one of my books or upcoming projects. Tens of thousands of hours spent plotting, pitching, and producing. Sometimes I wonder what I would have done with those hours had I not been a writer? Perhaps, I would’ve become a great businessman, or politician? Or perhaps, I would have wasted them in front of a TV or video game? Perhaps, I would have been a barfly and one drunken evening met someone other than my wife? Unless I can invent a time machine, I’ll never know. My current work-in-progress deals with these kinds of questions, but I’m not going to get into promotion right now. What makes nostalgia flow on days like this is the social sacrifices all serious writers make. It is the loneliest profession in the world, after all. The saddest however, is the writer who doesn’t hit the grand success they’ve dreamt and think they have wasted their time pursuing their passion. If you truly enjoy your craft than that enjoyment itself is the reward; not fortune, fame, or recognition. All the sacrifices made are worth it.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Infinite sales!

I just did something that I’ve never done before. Something I ignorantly hoped to avoid but always knew would happen. I just paid hard earned dough to promote my books. Well, not my books individually, but my blog and author’s site. I signed up for two marketing ideas that I believe may actually work. I also have a third PR person in line to do search engine optimization. Who would have thought being a writer and selling books could get so complicated. The first site I signed up for is called They drew me in with a special $50 off offer and the promise that I can cancel hassle free after three months and they will refund all of my money if I don’t see results. Can’t lose on that deal. Anyway, what they do is advertise your blog through their sites and social media and send out postings and things. I figure, why not try it if there’s a full money back guarantee. If it works, great! If not, no biggie. The second thing I’m trying today is a site called It’s pretty interesting what they do. For a relatively cheap price (I paid $55) they take your keywords and suggestions and have a professional write a totally unique article that they then submit to hundreds of sites and blogs looking to post information. They have links back to your websites. The theory being, that if the reader likes the info at hand they’ll click on your link to see more. You even get to read and make suggestions on the article before it’s posted. Sounds pretty good. All in all, my investment for marketing and promoting my seven, soon to be eight published books is a grand total of  $239.40. We’ll see how all this goes. I’ll keep everyone posted of my results. Oh, and once I get this search engine optimization thing going on, I’ll let you all know how that works. Here’s to infinite sales!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Starting a new novel

It’s happened! I’ve finished a new book (DREAM TRAVELER) and it’s about to go live. So, what do I do now? Well, besides all the marketing and promotion I’m planning in the coming weeks, it’s time to start a new novel. I’ve had this one simmering in my brain for a long time; about thirty years. What’s it about? Well, I learned long ago not to talk-out a book before you’ve put it to page, but I have come up with a tagline. ‘You and me and the world we live in is nothing more than illusion’. The title is IMAGINATION. That said, I anticipate many, many hours in front of a keyboard and the entire winter season to complete the first draft. I also anticipate that this will be my longest book simply because of the complex subplots and sub-stories I’m planning. So, bring on the cold and snow! I’ll be holed up in my office pouring out my ‘imagination’.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Writing and the holidays

Happy Thanksgiving to all! That said, I have to tell you that since I’m in the service industry, I work every Thanksgiving. So today, black Friday, is my day to celebrate. Oh it’ll be a hoot. Got the family coming over, got friends of the kids stopping by, got lots of food and drink. By the time most of you read this I’m going to be knee-deep in overindulgence. But for now, I must write. This post is only the beginning of about two hours I’ve set aside this morning to rewrite a novel I finished about six months back. It’s a literary about a group of drugged-out teens. Some of you might say, “But it’s pseudo-Thanksgiving, just take the day off.” I only wish I could. Writing for me is an addiction no different than drinking or smoking. I must do it every day! Steven King once said that he writes all year except for on his birthday. But then he later reflected that it was a lie. He wrote even on his birthday. He never took a day off. I’m like that, and I’m sure a lot of you are, too. I think that’s what separates the people who dream of writing a novel and those who actually do. As I anticipate the craziness that’s about to ensue in my household, I hear stirrings upstairs… the kids are waking. Time to start the rewrite so I can become a social creature later on.  

On a side note, I just checked my sales. I sold six books last night! Happy shopping!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Marrying a writer

So, you married yourself a writer, eh? You bought into the romantic notion of the two of you sitting fireside, you drinking a glass of pinot noir while your significant other sits beside you writing the next great American novel. The only sound is the crackling fire and the tapping of their keyboard. Every once in a while your significant other looks up from their masterpiece and flashes you a smile that makes you feel like you’re the most special person in the world. Your house is huge and your worries are small.

A slap to the face!

Think again. Unless you’re one of the lucky few who actually make a living at their craft the reality is much different. My wife married me, a writer, and let me tell you how it really is for her. I have a strict routine which I follow daily. Any deviance from this routine and I feel disconnected with the world and my place in it. This routine has been ongoing for fifteen years now. I have been with my wife for sixteen years, so this is nothing new for her. Every morning, after brushing my teeth, I fix a cup of instant coffee and sit down in front of my computer. That’s how it is. That’s what I do. This is my most creative time and I’m always at my best. This is when I write new material and give old material a serious read. I must do this session alone, which means no noise, or activity around me. My wife spends her mornings upstairs alone, watching TV or getting ready for work. My writing usually lasts about an hour and a half and when I’m finished, I immediately exercise for another hour. At this point, my wife has started her day and is off somewhere not to be seen until the evening hours. For me, depending upon if I’m working my conventional job or not, the afternoon is spent marketing and promoting. This aspect of being a writer is relatively new to me, since I’ve only been doing it for about ten months now. I used to fill this time with querying agents and publishers, but thanks to the digital revolution, these people are no longer needed. My nights are spent jotting ideas and reading other people’s books. Occasionally, my wife will sit beside me and also read a book.

Every month I get direct deposits from Kindle and various other outlets, and I smile that at least I’m earning some money and people are reading my stuff. But as far as that romantic notion I’d mentioned earlier, it does exists, at times, but usually we’re both drinking pinot noir and there isn’t any writing going on.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Greatest feeling ever!

Got a new book coming out next week and I must say it’s a great feeling. Not because I finished another book, but because I finished a book that I started writing in 1997. As I slowly weed through more than two decades of manuscripts, there’s a certain joy that comes each time one is finally declared “finished”. Even as I re-read the manuscript for the thousandth time, I could still picture myself fourteen years ago, sitting upstairs in my sweltering bedroom pumping out the first draft of the story into a 546 megabyte hard drive all while dreaming of having legions of fans and wild success. It’s these dreams that have kept me writing for all of these years. But, I digress. What I really wanted to do is give you a quick overview of the people I use and trust to put a raw manuscript into absolute professional standards. When you sell an ebook, the cover and interior formatting must be perfect if you are to attract a growing audience. You don’t want to cheapen out on these things. So… once again, I get no kickback or any other incentive to mention these people, only that they have been fantastic when it comes to producing my ebooks. The first person I recommend is my cover artist Judy Bullard. She is absolutely fantastic and has an uncanny way of creating the exact cover I had envisioned in my head. She’s done the last four of my books, including my latest, which you can see on my blog. Here are the links to see my covers of books she’s done that are for sale now:



The second person who makes my ebooks possible is Chris O’Byrne. You can check him out on Linkedin or his website. This is his email address. Chris is great at formatting the manuscript, assigning ISBN’s and downloading the manuscript to Kindle and Smashwords. So, that’s about it. Simple, huh? These two and a great story and you’ve got the makings for success. I’m confident my book is in the right hands and I’m getting ready to market and promote it like mad. Check out DREAM TRAVELER, available in about a week.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

New book cover!

Here it is! My new book cover! Next step is to have the novel formatted to Kindle standards and then begin the promotion process. I'm almost glad winter is approaching.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Sales are strange!

I applaud Kindle and the new digital revolution for allowing me to publish and sell my books. I’ve spent the better part of the last twenty years writing non-stop and have accrued quite a collection. Like a diligent author, I market and promote heavily online, but have yet to hire an actual publicity person (that will come in time). That said, I just got my monthly royalty statement from Kindle Direct Publishing. Now, the amount won’t allow me to quit my job and move to Key West, but it’s a start. So, why have I given this post this title; because it’s true; sales are strange! Though my sales are steadily increasing each month, they are so wildly unpredictable it seems to have no logic. For example, I sold an average of three to ten books a day in October. And believe me, I’m very happy with those numbers. But here’s the thing, doing everything exactly the same: same marketing, promotion, and social media postings, my sales completely cut off so far this month. Literally, not one sale for the last two weeks. Then, this morning I checked and I’ve got sales. Lots of sales. Now, I don’t know if Kindle stats have been down for the last two weeks or what, but the numbers are in. To all who bought a book yesterday, thanks! And to whatever book-Gods there may be floating around in the celestial heavens, thanks for this magic spell.

And please check out my latest interview.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

FREE edits and critiques!

A few weeks ago I gave my list of free marketing/promo/writers sites that all authors should be on. And I got a great response. Thanks for all the thanks. Now, I want to share those sites that are dedicated to helping writers hone their craft. These sites provide FREE feedback from readers on anything from a back jacket blurb to a full read of a manuscript. The people on these sites are friendly and give great advice. I must warn you however, don’t even think of promoting your stuff or trying to sell your work. Marketing or promoting your work, even ever so subtly, is heavily frowned upon and will probably get you kicked off. Anyway, here they are in no particular order. The list is small. I suggest you check them out. Again, there are probably thousands of sites that offer these kinds of free edits, but I personally have found these five sites to be the best for honest feedback.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Reason to write

Home from vacation and looking forward to working sixty hours in the next six days… not! There are many reasons why people attempt to, or actually do, write a book. Some are for purely egotistical reasons: money, fame, the adulation of pretty girls and boys. Some people write books because they feel they have a story to tell the world, whether it’s fiction or non-fiction. Some people write stories purely for the joy, and care little if no one else but family members ever read their words. And some people write books because it’s all they know and envision themselves ever doing. Since birth, this last sect of writers have a constant, never-ending, burning, drive inside that compels them to put their observations and imaginations to the page. These are writers who don’t care about the perks of authorsdom (artistic license here) and must compose stories everyday, like a junkie needing to blast heroin into a greedy, suckling vein. That is the category of writer that I fall into (not the junkie part). Fame, fortune, none of it matters… or so I thought. Getting on that plane yesterday and leaving Miami to return up north and go back to work changed my perspective a bit. I’m still the compulsive, reclusive, prolific author, and I can still do without the fame and adulation, but I gotta tell ya, the fortune and being on endless vacation would be nice. Give a peak at my list of books. Thanks for your support.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Writing and fishing

I’m sitting on the dock this morning, my fishing rod baited with a shrimp and hoping to catch some lunch when a strange thought occurred to me. Fishing and becoming a successful author are similar activities. Except when you’re fishing, you use bait to catch stuff and when you’re a writer you use your books to try and catch something, that something being an agent, publisher, or audience. The analogy expounds even further. With fishing, the quality of bait is directly related to the amount of fish it will attract. An author’s book is like that. Better quality books attract more of an audience. When I throw my fishing bait into the ocean I never know what I will catch. Much like writing a book and then putting it out there on the internet for readers to find. You never know what’s going to happen or how many readers you’re going to attract. That’s why fishing appeals to me almost as much as writing does. The unknown of what may happen, what you may reel in. Or maybe it’s because I’ve been doing a lot of both while on vacation. My next post may be titled, Writing and Limes. Can anyone say Margarita?

Oh, and a quick writing tip that I’ve discovered can really give your books an immediate boost. Read each sentence you have that begins with THE and then read the sentence aloud without THE. See if THE can be eliminated. If it can, see how much stronger the sentence becomes.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Environment and inspiration

As readers of my blog know, I am currently on vacation in the Florida Keys while my step-kids are at our house up north. The Keys is and was home to many famous artists and writers including its most notable resident, Earnest Hemmingway. Hemmingway lived and fished here, and wrote some of his most memorable novels in this tropical paradise. So, how has my own writing been going? I must admit the scenery is breathtaking and watching the sunsets really does get the creative juices flowing. But I haven’t been as productive as I had hoped to be. Since I’ve been here, (a little over a week) I have almost finished with the final read of my new novel, DREAM TRAVELER; about a fifteen-year-old girl who travels to other times and dimensions whenever she falls asleep. I have also skimmed through my next novel, WASTED, about a group of crazy, drug-addicted friends, which is complete and ready for a final read. The clean air and abundant sunshine has helped make the process of revision easier, but it’s still hard to concentrate with so much beauty around me. I haven’t had any new ideas for books or started any new projects while I’ve been down here, but that’s okay. I have all winter and the coming ice and snow to isolate myself and start a new book. Also, I can’t spend too much time on my writing at the moment or my wife will get mad. Her not being a writer, I can imagine that it’s pretty frustrating that I’m sitting at my computer for hours at a time when the day outside is extraordinary. I just enjoy writing stories so damn much! Anyway, the ocean calls and the sun beckons. Gotta go.  

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Vacation+no marketing=little sales

As I write this I am on vacation. Yes, vacation. That magical two weeks a year when you leave your cares behind and head off into the sunset. In my case, this is Key West Florida. It’s beautiful! Right now it’s 82 degrees and sunny with low humidity. I watched the recent snowstorm in the northeast on television and thanked my lucky stars that I left Pennsylvania two days before it hit. I do write on vacation, usually in the morning before the high heat of the day sets in, but it’s not nearly the output I do at home. Of course, if that were the case down here my wife wouldn’t be speaking to me right now. Anyway, to get to my point of the title of this post, since I have been on vacation (a week) I’ve done nothing to market or promote myself. Now, this may seem like a minuscule amount of time compared to the average human life span of 77 years, but for an author trying to get reader’s attention this seems like forever. Most ebook buyers are looking for something immediate and if you can’t snatch their attention with marketing you’re going to lose sales. My own sales have dropped nearly seventy percent this week. Now, I’m not complaining, vacation is awesome! I just don’t want my cyber-community to forget about the books I write while I’m away. Hence, this post.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Websites all writers should be on.

I’ve been doing a lot of marketing/promotion lately for my books and have come up with a “must-be-on” list for writers who want to promote their books. These website provide free services that can really get your books noticed. There are many other sites out there but I highly recommend you concentrate your marketing efforts on these. Did I mention that they are all free?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Believe in ghosts?

I work at a country Inn rumored to be haunted. And I’m not just saying that. The Inn has been written up in books about haunted places and actual ghost hunters have spent nights trying to capture on film inhabitants of the great beyond. One of more frequent questions I get asked by people who know the Inn’s history is if I have ever seen anything out of the ordinary? Now, I’m at the Inn late at night, I’ve done inventory in the “haunted” wine cellar at two in the morning. I’ve strolled through the old buildings for more than a decade and this is what I’ve seen that makes me question whether or not I believe in ghosts. Nothing. I’ve never witnessed one thing out of the ordinary. Sorry, but I just don’t believe there are such creatures as ghosts, which doesn’t altogether eliminate the concept of a hereafter. I just don’t think these beings of the netherworld are interested in hanging around old structures when no one is supposed to be watching them. I mean, if the human soul continues on after death than what could the afterlife be like? I have my own ideas.


Friday, October 21, 2011

Free Promo! Free Promo!

Just a quick post before I spend my weekend working at my job and this little piece of promotion disappears into cyberspace. If you’re an indie writer and have a book to sell than check out the site below, Indie Snippets. They have a pretty good base of readers and having my books placed there has increased traffic to my book sites. I think they’re a little backlogged right now, but take a moment to fill out their submission form. It’s free, and free is always good.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Staycation for $1.25

Lately, I’ve been blogging about memories, life experiences, writing, my take on the publishing industry, etc. So, today I’ve decide to do some good ole’ fashioned promotion. My latest three books, all released in the last year, are now available for just $1.25. As I mentioned in a previous post, although these books all came out around the same few months, they took more than a decade for me to consider them finished. They all have been professionally edited, evaluated, and even made the NY publishing rounds with a prominent agent at FinePrint Literary Agency. They all got serious interest from major publishers such as Random House and Harper publishing who all agreed the material was “very strong and unique storytelling”. In the end and due to the shrinking marketplace for new writers, they were turned down. Then Kindle came along and we all know how this story ends. So, if you’re looking for a way to escape your normal routine for awhile and lose yourself in a good book, why not, for less than a cup of coffee, have a little staycation with one of my novels? I think you’ll agree it was the best buck-and-a-quarter entertainment you’ve ever spent.



Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Riches vs. fame

I’ve been pondering the notion of my books one day going viral and selling millions of copies. I’ve been pondering how much my life would change and what I would do with my time if I didn’t have to work at a conventional job anymore. Of course, I would still write books, that’s a given, but what else would I do with my time? I guess it depends on the amount of sales. A million copies sold would allow me to live a life of ease, but if you’re talking in the millions, then I would like to give back a little. It’s always been a dream of mine to start my own publishing company and help out authors who write books that are wild, and a bit off the mainstream, like mine. But, the reality of the twenty-first century is that authors don’t need publishers anymore. With epublishing and Kindle Direct Publishing, author’s can be their own bosses. Maybe, I’d contribute to a college or give some money to an animal rescue or a homeless shelter. I don’t know. I guess, if I go viral we’ll see what happens. Riches are good. But what about fame? What does fame allow you to do? Let’s see. It can get you a good seat at a restaurant. It can most likely get you a romp in the sack with a member of the opposite sex… Gee, it’s hard to come up with another one. Without money, fame is nothing more than an ego boost. As of this writing, I’ve got almost fifty followers on my blog, my books have been “liked” on Amazon by dozens of strangers, my author’s den site has had over 45,000 hits, and my other sites have combined hits of over 25,000. That said, over 70,000 people, at least, have read about me, seen my books, and showed an interest in what I do. In a way, I guess that makes me famous. So let’s see what that fame can do for my writing career, because I sure ain’t getting rich off it. Yet.

Monday, October 17, 2011

My dead dog.

I dreamt of my dog last night. It has been exactly six months since I made that awful decision to put him down. He was deaf, crippled, and going blind. I had spent the last months of his life in denial of his condition and constantly cleaning up his incontinence. When I went to work I would have to line the floor with newspaper and still would come home to messes. Finally, when all he could do was eat, sleep, and spin in circles, I decided it was time. It took everything I had to walk into the vet’s office and hold my dog as the injection was administered. I would have been okay if all my dog did was go to sleep peacefully, but he didn’t. He whined and cried as the medication took effect. He hadn’t uttered a whimper for two months previous. Finally, after what seemed like minutes, he went limp in my arms and I put him onto the table. I looked at his lifeless body with his blind eyes open wide, and then went outside to sob. It was only the second time in my ten years of marriage that my wife had seen me cry. I spent the remainder of that day throwing away my dog’s things, except for his collar which I put away in a box.

So, why am I telling you this? Because I just wrote that scene into my latest book, turning that negative into a positive. Although my dog of fifteen years is gone now, his memory will live on.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Hated Indie authors

Once again, I’ve made the cardinal sin of trying to market my books on forums and threads, and once again, a bunch of people are sending me nasty replies. Which is fine if these forums and threads had a policy of no author marketing, but they don’t. I learned early on that trying to post of those sites gets you a base of enemies real fast. But what still confuses me is the length that some people will go to, to make you feel bad for even trying to distribute your novels. I mean, why are these people so bored with their lives that they actually take the time to comment negatively? If I don’t like something I ignore it, I don’t use it as a vehicle to spew my hate and anger. Why even waste my time with it? I guess what I’m trying to say, is that if you hate the concept of the indie writer marketing and selling their own work without the help of the big publishing corporations and corporate greed, then just ignore us and move on with your lives. All we’re trying to do is provide some escapism entertainment for the world. Believe me, there are very few indie writers making anything more than beer money from their indie books. It’s about art and sharing your stories.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

How long does it take to write a book?

I’ve been wondering how long it really takes for an author to write a book. I’m not talking about a first draft, I’m talking about the point where an author says “done!” and then sends it off to the publisher or agent. For me, it usually takes about six months to write a draft worthy of revision. But to consider the manuscript completed it takes a lot longer. Since all of my books have been through the ringer with agents, editors, and publishers and I’ve used their advice and my continuing literary improvement to keep revising and strengthening both plot and grammar, the maturation process for each book has taken a long time. Here are the time frames it took to consider each of my novels complete and off-to-the-publisher-worthy. I have many more books to come.


INSECTLAND 1997-2011… 14 years

DROP OUT   2007-2011… 4 years

Monday, October 10, 2011

Spooky times ahead

Tis the season to be spooky. That said, AFTER is now half price for the Halloween season. Many of you read my article on pricing and I received many comments both good and bad about lowering the price of my books and the perceived worth of the material inside. I believe that by temporarily lowering the price of my books I will be able to generate a larger audience who will appreciate a good, original story and want to check out more of my stuff. If you haven’t checked out AFTER, here’s a brief summary and a link for purchase.


When Nick Murray dies mysteriously he enters an afterlife like nothing he had ever imagined. There are rules, regulations, and beings in positions of great power. The devil craves this power and will do anything to attain it, even use his evil influence to start a global war on Earth. The devil intends to collect billions of human souls and turn them into a massive, afterlife zombie attack force.

Nick’s soul is dropped into the body of a deceased army commander in the hopes of stopping the apocalypse. But an unexpected turn of events lands him face to face with the ultimate adversary where he discovers a terrifying truth. How can you destroy something that is already dead?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

What price?

In earlier posts, I’ve often said that I think the 99 cent price on Kindle books seem to cheapen the worth of the book. Now, I’m not reversing that conviction completely, but what I will say is that 99 cent books appear to be selling many more copies than those books priced just a few dollars higher. Why? Let’s put it in terms of a used bookstore that has a rack of books for 99 cents and a rack of books for three dollars. As a reader, which shelf are you likely to check out first? I for one, always check out the cheaper books hoping to find a gem. And even if I don’t, I’m likely to buy a few books that merely spark my interest. After all, you can’t really go wrong with 99 cents, even if the book is terrible. So that said, I’ve caved into the common denominator and lowered the price of my Kindle books to $1.25 each. I chose that price because I wanted to set myself apart from the pack, even if it is only by twenty-six cents. All of my books have been professionally edited, formatted, and the covers are all original artwork. I think that alone is worth the extra pennies. So, if you’ve got a buck and a quarter to spare, check out my stuff, it’ll be the most entertainment value around.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

My mistakes.

My father always told me that it's okay to make mistakes, it's how you learn. Well, I'm about to tell you the mistakes I've learned while marketing and promoting my books so that you don't have to go through the same things when you market and promote your books. I'll put them in list form so it's easier to digest.
Number 1. When posting on forums don't just promote yourself with no other redeeming information. When I first started out I'd post summaries of my books and links to buy them on sites that specifically said no self-promo. I didn’t listen. The result: I got banned from these sites and all the networking they could have provided.

Number 2. Don't write articles that tell people how they are going to feel about your book. For instance, don't write a blurb that says, "this is the best book you'll read all year". Statements like that really turn off the reader.

Number 3. Don't believe the hype that paying for click advertising or putting up banners are going to increase sales. The most important driver of sales is word of mouth through social sites and networking. It's a very small percentage of people that actually will buy the book through a paid ad.

Number 4. Don’t think that by spamming social network sites that you’re somehow going to go viral and sell a million books. I’ve had a few tweets and postings that went viral (meaning tens of thousands of people clicked on the info) and it led to just a small increase in sales. It’s a cool feeling knowing so many people have checked your stuff, but not profitable.

Number 5. Just because you wrote a book, published it, and sold a few copies, don’t think you’re going to be able to quit your job and retire. That only happens to a few lottery-winning writers.

Number 6. Write for yourself and don’t try to copy what’s out there just because what’s out there is selling now. Be original and write what you want.

So there you have it. These are the mistakes I made and that cost me loads of time and damaged my professional online persona. Do the exact opposite of these six things and I guarantee you’ll see your sales rise and people will begin to notice you.

Monday, September 26, 2011

It's here! It's live! It's wild!

INSECTLAND is now available nationwide! This week will be spent marketing and promoting. I have several hundred people on various websites and forums that are anticipating this book. Hopefully, it will reflect in the sales. If you're looking to read a story like no other, than this book is for you. Please check it out. Thanks.

Be frightened! Be very frightened! Tiny, dragon-like creatures hiding in our homes are going to harm us. They will shrink us to the size of ants, enslave us, and turn our world into their own. But there is hope. Legions of insect robots intent on stopping them have recruited high school sophomore Dan Larson for help. Thrust into danger, Dan risks everything in a desperate attempt to thwart an attack and prevent the end of society as we know it.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Is it worth it to even try to get an agent?

The year is 2005 and I just signed with my agent at Fineprint Literary. I was full of hope and excitement and dreams of hitting it big. Unfortunately, three and a half years later we ended our contract. Now, with six books available for sale and another four on the way I’m beginning to wonder if it is worth the effort to try and get signed again. Considering the average “good” agent receives over 100 email queries a day, what are my odds of getting discovered even if I’m the next Steven King? Are writers still trying to go the traditional route or are most writers taking their product into their own hands and self-publishing, then marketing and promoting on the web? Will there even be traditional publishing in the next five years? Will some really smart people develop websites that match writers to readers’ specific wants thereby cutting out the middlemen of big publishing houses? As an Indie writer who’s a bit off the mainstream, I hope so.

Friday, September 16, 2011

I love publishing books that shake-up the mainstream

Yeah, I had a top agent once; Gary Heidt at Signature Lit. Yeah, at one time I was also signed to one of the best agencies in NY; Fineprint Lit. Yeah, I got phone calls that editors wanted to buy my books. Yeah, you guessed it, they all fell through in the end. But you know what? I don't care. Cause now, I can write, publish, and sell anything I want. When I was signed to these agencies I got dozens of rejections, not because my stuff was bad, the editors all said, but because my stories didn't fit the mainstream marketplace. How does anyone even really know what mainsteam is? Thank you Kindle for allowing me to publish my books the way I wrote them.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Exposure rules!

Got another interview posted. Please check it out.

Also, here's the cover to INSECTLAND due out soon.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Interviews, Interviews, Interviews

Lately, I've been getting into the interview thing. You'd be surprised how many bloggers are looking for material and are willing to give an interview with nothing in return. Of course, whenever I'm interviewed I promote it heavily throughout the web which drives traffic to their blog. It's a symbiotic partnership. Though I'm not sure how many sales these interviews generate, it does give me lots of exposure. And I have gotten some nice feedback by total strangers.

Here is a link to my latest interview.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Free promo for Indie writers

Hey all,

There’s a new site that will promo your book for free. It’s called Indie snippets. They’ve listed two of my books so far and will do more in the coming weeks. Here are the links to the pages. Check it out!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Will speech recognition programs make everyone a writer?

I’ve seen the commercials; a young child is telling a story as the computer automatically types it, fueling an imagination-laced story. The commercial makes it seem like anyone can be a writer. But by definition, what is a writer? I believe the term will soon be obsolete. Why? Because with speech recognition anyone can sit at a computer and talk into it, but it takes an artist to tell a story that fascinates. I do believe that soon millions of people will call themselves writers because they have talked into a microphone for a few hours and have a stack of neatly typed pages to prove it. But only the artist will have a stack of papers that can you where you’ve never been… in your mind.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Waiting… just waiting.

And so the waiting begins. The hurricane is coming. It’s always strange the denial people feel before a disaster hits, especially a day like today. Here in Pennsylvania, it’s a sunny, beautiful day. But I’m not fooled. I’ve been watching the weather channel and I know it’s coming. I know in 36 hours my life will be significantly changed if the storm gives us a direct hit. I’m not saying I’m going to lose my house or anything like that, though we may get some pretty serious storm damage, I’m saying that my mother-in-law lives by the beach in New Jersey and now she’s staying with us because of the mandatory evacuations. The house she lives is old and sturdy and I’m not too worried about it getting destroyed, what I’m more worried about is that she won’t be able to get back in it for several days if not weeks. This could be worse than any storm damage. I’ll keep you posted as the storm rolls towards us.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Hurricane is coming!

     By now most people are aware that a hurricane is coming our way here on the east coast. I’m pretty safe in Pennsylvania, but I sympathize with those along the shore. I know it’s going to be a rough ride.

     Besides the wind, rain, hail, and destruction, there is something fascinating about watching Mother Nature unleash her wrath. It makes you think that with all our technology we’re still vulnerable when it comes to our environment. Perhaps, one day we will be able to control such storms and manipulate the weather, but for now that’s fiction. Or is it?

     What will I be doing during the hurricane? Well, as long as the power stays on and I have light, I will be doing what I always do. Writing. Perhaps, even a little bit more inspired as the rain and wind buffet the house. After all, being in a hurricane when I was in Florida inspired the intense weather scenes in my novel DROP OUT. Maybe during the depths of this storm a serial killer or creature from the netherworld will be born and a new story will be written.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Aging a story to perfection

      Finished my newest middle grade sci/fi novel, INSECTLAND yesterday and now it’s off to get its cover. I am using my usual ebook cover person, Judy Bullard. This is a book I started in January of 1997 and have been tweaking ever since. It’s funny how some novels can be written in a few months while others, like this one, can take years.

     Actually, I think I need to clarify something here. It didn’t take me this long to write the book, I actually wrote the book in four months back in 1997, it’s taken me this long to consider the book finished. I believe there is a big difference between finishing a book and a book being finished. Not much of the basic plot of this story has changed over the years it’s more the details, the characterization, and the cool little subplots that make a story hard to put down that I’ve changed. For me, saying a book is finally finished means I have no more desire to read it and look for corrections. And that’s huge, because I’m a perfectionist when it comes to telling a tale.

     I sometimes let people read what I call my drafts, but some would definitely call completed novels, just to see how they react. If it’s mostly positive, I’ll continue and consider the manuscript a work in progress. Which means it could be anywhere from a few weeks to more than a decade before it’s available for sale. But as they say, stories, like fine wine, can take a long time to mature.

Monday, August 22, 2011

1.4 million dollars is all I need to keep my wife happy.

My wife and I live near a lake and every morning we take a long walk. Well, this morning my wife turns to me and says out of the blue; “You need to make 1.4 million dollars.”
“Done,” I replied.
“No really,” she pressed. “We need 1.4 million dollars.”
“Why that amount?” I asked.
She gave me this answer. 1.4 million dollars is the number she came up with that will allow us to retire; which sounded good to me since we’re both in our early forties. She came up with this number by figuring our debts, what we could pay off, and how much we’d have left over to invest and live off the interest. It wouldn’t be an extravagant life, but we’d be comfortable and happy. It all sounded very logical to me. After all, what better dream for a writer than to spend his days perfecting his/her craft instead of having to work a conventional job?
This sent my mind into a churning idea mill. How do I get the money? Options flooded my brain with pros and cons.
Option #1: Steal it or rob a bank.
Pro- Easy way to get the money.
Con-watched too many episodes of LOCK UP and fear jail and violence.
Option #2: Buy and sell drugs.
Pro-Once again, easy way to make the money.
Con-Once again, watched too many episodes of LOCK UP.
Option #3: Work three jobs twenty-four hours a day until the money is saved.
Pro-Legal way to acquire the funds.
Con-I’d be dead from exhaustion so what’s the point.
This lead me to the last option. The only feasible option: Write books that people want to buy and read.
Pro-Legal and enjoyable.
Con-Well, there really isn’t any.
Okay, so how do I go about this? Well, I’ve already written a number of books that are available for sale all over the world and I’ve gotten some very good reviews from independent readers. That part of the process is complete. Now, how do I get a million readers to agree to purchase my books? Believe it or not, that isn’t out of the realm of possibilities. Author’s sites GOODREADS and AUTHORS DEN have a combined membership of over six million people and a combined ‘unique hits’ of over fifteen million a month. Imagine if fifteen million people bought one of my books tonight. Now, I’m not saying that will happen, or even a small fraction of people will purchase my books, or even a smaller fraction of people look me up with any interest. What I’m saying is that it is a possibility. By placing this post on my blog and on the homepage’s of the multiple author’s sites that I belong to, I estimate it will generate at least a 100,000 hits. And if you’re reading this you’re one of them. That’s pretty incredible when you think about it. If just a small fraction of the readers purchase just one of my books I’ll be on my way to making and keeping my wife very happy and content. And isn’t that the goal of every husband?
Okay, I’d also benefit a bit, too.