Monday, February 27, 2012

Not fast enough.

“It’s not happening fast enough! It’s not happening fast enough!” Those were the complaints of Jim Morrison during the early days of the 1960’s rock band The Doors concerts. They had been together as a group for a mere seven months and Jim was getting antsy for them to get discovered. “Relax Jim,” Ray Manzareck (The keyboardist and discoverer of Jim’s song writing ability) replied. “All great things take time.”

Within the year the group was world famous and Jim Morrison became one of the biggest rock stars ever. My point being, Kindle and epublishing are a new medium. It’s going to take time before ereaders become as common in people’s homes as cell phones. Right now, we as writers are experiencing this new revolution in its infancy. Can you imagine the global market our books will be exposed to in the next five years? It’s a bit mind-boggling. I’ve made sure to get my foot into this newly opening door from the beginning, and will continue to write books with world-wide appeal. With the epublication of DEGENERATES coming in a few days, I’ve begun what I call my psycho-killer global assault. Though I’ve sold and/or given away thousands of copies of my middle grade sci-fi fantasy books in the last few months, it appears that my more-adult themed books are getting the most unsolicited sales. By unsolicited, I mean I didn’t promote them that week and still had sales. So, as I’ve mentioned before, I’m somewhat switching genres for a few months while I re-published my adult noir thrillers with Kindle and Smashwords. I’ll be putting my cover designer and formatter to work, that’s for sure. Right now, I’m trying to come up with a new pitch for DEGENERATES. The old one is a bit boring. Watch for it soon. Oh, and my two day giveaway of DREAM TRAVELER yielded 139 sales in the U.S. and only 37 sales in the U.K. Kinda disappointing. Let’s see if I get residual sales. This blog ALWAYS WRITING has surpassed 100,000 hits. Thanks to all who read my posts.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

What are dreams?

Find out for FREE! That’s right! Right now until Sunday night DREAM TRAVELER is absolutely free on Kindle! Get you copy now! Okay, now that the promotion is done, I’m also happy to write that I just finished the first draft of my new book IMAGINATION, my noir thriller, DEGENERATES is coming out in ebook format next week, and this blog is nearing 100,000 hits. Whew! The Fugal ereader book of the day also contacted me and I have scheduled sponsorship of SILENT INVASION for March 20th.

Also, as I’ve noted before, I’m offering examples of my query letters that got serious agent and publisher attention. Feel free to use the format. I’m never going back to traditional publishing.


Believe that life is worth living and that belief will create the fact. Nathan Cruz is a 911 hero who escaped from the twin towers and saved the lives of dozens of strangers, yet lost his pregnant fiancĂ© and entire extended family in the catastrophe. Grief-stricken and tormented by survivor’s guilt, he ‘drops out’ of society to live self-sufficiently on an isolated houseboat in Key West Florida. Spared the fate of his family only to be given a life without purpose, he believes his loss prevents him from finding true happiness.

DROP OUT is a work of fiction that combines three sub-stories into one interrelated novel. Think TOWERING INFERNO meets CAST AWAY meets TUESDAYS WITH MORRIE. It is complete at 57,000 words.

Fast-forward ten years, Nathan spends his days in limbo, existing without purpose. His bubble-of-a-world changes forever when a category three hurricane forces him from his boat and into the home of Miriam Kanter, a young, fiercely independent woman alone and on her final days battling pancreatic cancer. Miriam had spent the time since her diagnosis experiencing life to its absolute fullest. Now death is upon her. Cut off from medical assistance by the storm, Nathan faces the most important challenge he’d ever imagined when he’s dropped into the role of primary caretaker and must treat and comfort Miriam as the disease rapidly takes hold.

Her failing health expedites their relationship and it grows deep and intimate as they share the joys, lessons, and tragedies of each other’s lives. During her last hours, Miriam teaches Nathan the beauty of the world, the importance of happiness, and that it is possible to love again.

My publishing history spans twenty years with credits in numerous zines and magazines. The genres you represent matches nicely with what I write and I hope you might consider me for your list. I have enclosed a short sample. I look forward to hearing from you.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Smart or dumb?

In a move that may be smart or may be dumb, I’ve raised the prices of my books to $1.99. This, after reading several threads and discussions on the matter of pricing. Here’s the gist of my reasoning. There are a lot of ebooks out there nowadays, and as I’ve heard in many discussion groups, a good number are not well-written, not formatted correctly, and have covers that look homemade. These authors want to sell their books (we all do) so they price them at the lowest cost allowed by Amazon, 99 cents. My books have all been through editors and agents, as I’ve mentioned before, and they all have covers created by a professional and the text has been formatted by a pro. Placing my books at a low price point insinuates (I hope I’m not offending) that the books may be of poor quality. As a reader, I tend to disregard lower priced books and looked for those priced a little higher, assuming the higher-priced will be better. It is a totally psychological quirk of mine and has nothing to do with what may actually be between the pages. I’ve also heard that some authors are shocked at how their sales increased when they raised their prices and escaped the stigma of the 99 cent mentality. I guess I’ll see what happens and report the results.
I just sent the last info for my sponsorship blitz. It starts with an interview on Feb. 26th and then paid sponsorships until the end of the year. Eight so far on such sites as Kindle Nation Daily, Kindle Fire Department, Kindle Boards, and The Frugal Ebook of the Day. I’m hoping to schedule more with my new books coming out while circulating the other titles over the next few months. I’m also having a free giveaway of INSECTLAND, starting on Saturday and ending Sunday night. Get your copy!

Here is the cover to my new Kindle release of DEGENERATES. I’ll be canceling my contract with iuniverse and putting out my line of noir thrillers as ebooks.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Sponsorship crazy!

I’ve been going sponsorship crazy and just booked three more sponsorships for KND and my newest discovery, Kindle Fire Department. Kindle Fire Department is a site for Kindle Fire owners, that is growing by leaps and bounds. Sponsorship is easy and relatively cheap (about $50). By getting in now, I locked in dates for sponsorship in May. I also booked sponsorship for SILENT INVASION on The frugal ($50). I’m waiting to hear the date on that one. Some of the best sites like Pixels of Ink and ereader news today are booked out for the next year, so you can see how important it is to book these sponsorships now. I’m also surfing the web to find emerging ebook sites that give sponsorships for cheaper. I’ll post anything that I find that I think is worthwhile. As I’ve said over and over, it’s not just about the cost-to-profit ratio when it comes to sales in the long run, but exposure. I think once readers start seeing an author’s books on site after site, eventually they may get curious and buy it. It appears to be starting to work for me. Over the last months I’ve listed all the marketing and promotion schemes I could find with limited sales results but lots of exposure. Finally, I’m seeing daily sales on a regular basis. Now, all I have to do is figure out how to multiply those sales.
As far as my own books go. SILENT INVASION still appears to be the top seller with DROP OUT not far behind. AFTER is selling some, but DREAM TRAVELER and INSECTLAND are dribbling. The Kindle version of DEGENERATES is coming soon with my cover artist Judy Bullard working on a new, scintillating cover as I write this blog. Should be pretty cool and available in a few weeks.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The results!

My Kindle Nation Daily, ebook of the day sponsorship is over and I must say, it wasn’t as successful as I’d hoped. However, sales did increase and as I said before, I also got lots of exposure. So, I decided to buy two more sponsorships. One for DROP OUT and one for SILENT INVASION. Since KND now allows you to pick your dates I figured I can’t lose. This last sponsorship was on a Thursday, but the new ones I have booked are for Friday June 16th, which I figure will be the very beginning of summer break for a lot of kids so they’ll be looking for books. I also booked for June 29th which is the Friday before Fourth of July weekend. Those dates were open so I snatched them up as quickly as I could. I do recommend KND mainly for the exposure, but still, the best promotional effort so far has been the free book giveaway on Kindle Direct Publishing. It has resulted in many more paid sales mainly because I figure readers like the book and want to read another one written by me. Whatever the reason, months of daily promotion is starting to pay off. My royalties are high enough this month that I need to get a tax ID number. My total downloads for the month of January and up until February 14th (both free and sold copies) is 3,425. I’m pretty psyched about that. Since October, I’ve been selling about thirty percent more books each month. Next, on KDP I’m putting out my paperback DEGENERATES. That will bring to six the number of my books now available through KDP. I hope to add FROSTPROOF and PULP by spring. Even though both of those books are available now on Kindle, iuniverse charges way too much for copies. I’ll give readers the option of buying it direct for $1.25. Strangely enough, DROP OUT is my second best selling book behind AFTER. I guess the inspirational theme is really affecting people.

My next novel, IMAGINATION is coming along nicely and I should have a good first draft completed by early spring.

P.S. Please hit the “like” button on SILENT INVASION. Thanks.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Here it is!

Here is the link to my sponsorship. Hopefully sales will bump up today.

Kindle Nation Daily
 Today’s Kindle Daily Deal — Thursday, February 16 – Save 72% on Michael Sims’ collection of the best vampire stories of the Victorian era, Dracula’s Guest: A Connoisseur’s Collection of Victorian Vampire Stories, plus … Neil Ostroff’s AFTER (Today’s Sponsor)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

What will happen?

Tomorrow begins my much anticipated Kindle Nation Daily sponsorship for AFTER. I bought this sponsorship nearly three months ago before the whole KND frenzy began. Since then, they have incorporated a new sponsorship ad page that makes it much easier for authors to sponsor. The benefits of sponsorship are many, including the possibility of the book going viral and thousands of copies sold. When I first heard about KND, they were still small and getting sponsorship space was for the elite. But now, I wonder if the ad will have the same effect and influence. Supposedly, just a single KND sponsorship can raise your Amazon ranking by hundreds, if not thousands. I guess we’ll see. Also, as I’ve said before, don’t bother with the pay per click ads on Goodreads, they have done almost nothing for sales. Also, I’m having a little trouble trying to figure out if signing with Substance Books has had any effect on sales. I am selling way more copies of my other books than the book, AFTER, that I have Substance Books working on. I like Hajni, who runs Substance, and I believe she has writer’s interests at heart, but I still haven’t seen any results. I know she does things with search engine optimization that take time to work, but I don’t know if I can justify zero sales for the month for AFTER, but dozens of sales for my other books not represented. I’m not going to not recommend Substance, but I will post the true results when I see them.

Just for fun, I’ve posted a picture of my new tattoo. And yes… it hurt like hell.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

I discovered the secret

I think I may have discovered why my sales increased so dramatically the other day. It has nothing to do with a marketing promo suddenly taking off or someone posting a rave review and recommendation. I believe my increase in sales was due to Kindle error. I posted a few notes on the KDP forum about my jump in sales and it seems that I’m not the only author that this happened to. It appears Kindle had made some mistakes in their counters and the recent jump in numbers was them finally correcting this problem. But here’s the good news… they were real sales! Though the 80 purchases in an hour and a half didn’t happen at that moment, the sales were still real and the ranking in the paid Kindle store was true. In a strange way, this gives me hope on the days that I rack few sales that perhaps there are sales taking place that will be recorded later. That said, the secret to making it as a successful indie writer is this: PATIENCE. We are experiencing first hand a new era in publishing where the writer can instantly connect with the publisher. It used to be that authors received a quarterly notice on sales and had no way of knowing how they were going until then. Now, sales recordings are almost instant. A writer can check hourly if he or she has sold a book. This can lead to a daunting feeling of “things aren’t happening fast enough”. Yesterday, I was a little depressed because I only logged 4 sales for the day. What I don’t take into account is the 125 sales I’ve shown so far this quarter. And this quarter isn’t over. And my sponsorships are just beginning. And with the electronic age my books have no shelf life so they will be available for purchase forever. It’s kind of mind boggling when you think about it. I have my entire life to market and promote my books. Wow!

On a side note, I spent quite a bit of time trying to figure out what led to my jump in sales. Though, it had no direct impact that day, I believe posting on Kindle Boards is the best way to promote your books without over-promoting. Kindle Boards allows you to attach your book images and links to buy them with each post you make. So, even if your posting a question about something unrelated to your writing you’ll still have a hash tag of your books. I believe this has led to an increase in sales.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

It worked!

The free promotion of SILENT INVASION seems to have worked. I don’t know if someone put it as a recommendation on their website, or if someone posted a blog about it, or that people who have read my other books liked them and now want to read this one. But last night in a period of about two hours I sold nearly 80 copies in the U.S. and U.K. combined. At one point my Amazon ranking fell below the 5,000 mark. It’s now back up into the 20,000 range. It is quite a rush to see the sales numbers go up and I must have checked every ten minutes. So, what now? Well, the numbers have steadied and are subsiding. My next move is to retrace all my promo for the last few days and try to figure out what made SILENT INVASION click for so many readers. Once I pinpoint the marketing avenue, I’ll do the same promo for each of my other books and hopefully create even more of a viral effect. The promotions have also affected my other books and they seem to be selling a bit more, too, especially in the U.K. As a writer, don’t underestimate the buying power of our friends across the pond. I’ve locked more than three dozen overseas sales so far this month.

I’m excited to see what happens with AFTER and the Kindle Nation Daily sponsorship scheduled for Feb. 16th. I’ll track the results and post. That’s about it for today. I did win about $500 down in Atlantic City and had a great time. Now, it’s time to get back to the biz. of writing. If sales continue the way they are going, it won’t be long until I finally break even in my marketing and book production costs and may even start making a profit. Please check out SILENT INVASION. This book seems to be the flavor of the moment.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Gambling and writing

I’m heading off to Atlantic City tomorrow to play blackjack and have some serious fun. Of course, I’m bringing my laptop so I can do a little writing while I’m not gambling. There’s nothing like looking at the ocean from twenty stories up for a little inspiration. My next novel, IMAGINATION is coming along nicely.
I’ve decided to release DEGENERATES in Kindle format. Right now, it’s the only noir thriller I have that’s not available. My other noir thrillers are through iuniverse and they charge a hefty fee for their ebooks. I’m actually considering taking all my books and publishing them under Kindle even though they are available through iuniverse. That way, they will still be available if people want the paperback version. I’m going to hire Judy Bullard to make me a new cover for DEGENERATES, one that is flashier than the one it has now. I don’t know what I was thinking when I designed that. Also, my Kindle Select free promotion for SILENT INVASION ends tonight. So far, 657 sold worldwide. I’m hoping for some reviews and residual sales. My online publicist, Hajni at Substance Books has contacted me and we are ready to begin some serious promotion. I’m “gambling” on her to get me some serious sales in the future. So, as I clock out of the marketing and clock in for some fun, I’ll be hoping to hit it big in all avenues. Here’s to hitting twenty-one at the tables.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Free this weekend!!

They are here! They are hidden among us! They will stop at nothing to destroy us!

Thirteen-year-old Tim Madison’s life turns upside down when a strange visitor takes him aboard a magnificent spaceship to train for a future alien invasion. Returned home with new skills and this terrible knowledge, he confides in his two best friends about his experience. Now, they’re in a race against time to prevent an all-out attack on Earth. Can they stop ruthless, spider-like creatures from constructing a massive extermination army deep inside our planet? Or will we all perish?

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Creating an image

I happened to pass a mirror the other day when the sun was at its brightest and shining through our living room window like a yellow spotlight. I was not so thrilled with what I saw. I’m 42, I workout daily, I eat properly, and I don’t smoke, but still, one cannot hide the years of living and experience etched into my epidermis. I cannot stop the slow regression of my hairline or the increasing aches and pains I experience at the end of each day and when I wake in the morning. I can only dye my hair for so long before it begins to look like a wooly muskrat is sitting on my head. So, how do I turn the mess I am into an image that will get people curious about me and my books? Answer… I don’t. You see, I believe writers have an aura about them that naturally draws an audience. Have you ever been in a room full of authors? The human energy is so palpable it stimulates the mind like breathable electricity. Writers are naturally interesting because we are interested in everything. When I’m out and about, my mind is always working, looking at objects and people and wondering if they can offer me anything in the way of character development or setting. When I converse with someone, I’m actually interested in what they have to say. I don’t feign enthusiasm or disregard them only to then toot my own horn. Unlike musicians, artists, and even sports figures, most writers pay little attention to the persona offered to the public. Writer’s rarely make it to the front pages of celebrity gossip magazines. At the moment, I’m unshaven, wearing a baggy shirt and worn jeans, and sporting hair longer than usual, this is me. The image I want to promote about myself is that I am as you see me. There’s nothing fake, planned, or staged. I can be as freaky as a circus performer or as serious as a queen’s guard. My books are my children and my life. That is my image.

Now, switching gears to marketing. There’s a great post I came across that discusses the ins-and-outs of how to make a living off Kindle Direct Publishing. I don’t totally agree with the author’s concept of publishing every little thing you scribble down, but he makes an interesting point about shelf-life and the potential of long term return on sales. Check it out, you’ll see what I mean. Also, the novel that started my writing career and the first in the series of three, SILENT INVASION will be free on Kindle from Friday until Sunday. Get a copy and enjoy the adventure. Tomorrow will be spent promoting the announcement. Cheers!