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 Blogcatalog.com. 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 submitedge.com. 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. Jubu@cox.net. 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. theebookeditor@gmail.com 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.