Saturday, March 31, 2012

Nothing to do this weekend? How about a free adventure?

Just wanted to let everyone know that my sci-fi adventure INSECTLAND is now free until Monday. And if you like it please check out my other books for sale. Thanks.

Imagine a world where humans are pests and insect-like aliens rule over them. Imagine that world is Earth.


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.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Millions upon millions

Just about everybody has lottery fever right now with Mega Millions jackpot over $500,000,000 dollars. And just like everybody else, I’ve been daydreaming all morning about what I’d do if I win. (I’ve got $20 in quick picks). I could fulfill every dream I ever had. Buy big houses, a yacht, a private jet. Eat the best food prepared by master chefs. Would that make me happy? Of course. But what if I had all that and stopped writing? What if having every desired fulfilled drained me of the passion to tell stories. Would I be happy? I can’t imagine ever not writing books. Even if I had that kind of wealth, I would still publish and promote my books. It’s an addiction that I can’t stop. So if I win tonight I may not blog for a few days but I’ll be back writing soon, sitting on the deck of my waterfront palace. But enough of fantasy, back to reality. I’ve got another free promotion for INSECTLAND tomorrow through Monday. The last one netted pretty good sales for a few days after the promotion ended and sales of my other books did go up for that period. I’ll post what happens this time. I’ve been reading on forums that the free promotion only attracts book hoarders who will download anything, but I don’t believe that to be wholeheartedly true. If it were than my sales wouldn’t be affected. I’ve also started a goal-setting spreadsheet for book sales-per-month. If I can keep my sales to the numbers I’ve come up with I should be able to equal my “real job” income in about a year. If that happens, I’ll have to make a decision about what is more important. Of course, after tonight and I win the half-billion, I won’t really need to worry about such trivial things as making a living.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Ye Old Query

Continuing my series on effective query letters that got interest in my books by industry professionals, I’m posting the original query letter for DEGENERATES that drew huge interest several years ago before anyone had heard of Kindle and ebooks. I had several agents request the entire manuscript from this query and it is this query that got my first power agent Gary Heidt really interested in my work. As I’ve posted before, Gary eventually signed me after reading the query for SILENT INVASION, but he always believed in DEGENERATES as a good story that needed to find its niche. Although Gary was unable to sell the novel, my subsequent indie published version has had many sales and those sales continue to increase. And just today I got the direct deposit into my bank account of my latest royalties. They are half as much as what my royalties will be this month so things are definitely heading in the right direction. I’ve got a couple of big sponsorships coming up in the next two weeks so this should boost sales even more. I have DROP OUT scheduled for a sponsorship on for April 4th and the one I’m really excited about is a whole week on Kindle Nation Daily’s new YA site starting on April 6th. This one is for SILENT INVASION, and I got the sponsorship for half its normal cost because of a promotion they were running. If all goes well, this could be the first sponsorship that may make the sales worth the price. I’ll post the results of both promotions when they are complete. Here’s the long ago, days of handwritten query letters and telephone calls, version of the DEGENERATES query. Just reading it brings back memories of those horribly long, wasted hours addressing these pleading bits of self-promotion.

Dear ?

Who are the degenerates, what are their pasts, and what random tragedies bring them together? DEGENERATES is a 65,000-word character-driven thriller that offers a raw, powerful look at a segment of our society founded on drugs, violence, and day-to-day survival.

DEGENERATES tells the downward spiral and interlocking stories of an alcoholic writer, a self-destructive teen, a burnt-out waitress, an abused young wife, a good-natured cook, a tormented serial killer, and a cop unwittingly assigned to stop him. Marred with addictions, poverty, and personal loss, each degenerate overcomes incredible obstacles and finds his or her own salvation working in a restaurant named City CafĂ©. They form new friendships and relationships, and in a short time turn their lives around — until Tommy Fielding is hired. Seeming innocent at first, Tommy is a schizophrenic who believes murder will ensure for him an existence of perfect happiness. What happens next places the group in grave danger and leads them into a horror that will change everything they have achieved.

Written in short, captivating chapters, DEGENERATES is more than a story; it is also an anatomy of the human condition, exploring the daily dramas of those less fortunate. Born from stories told to me by hundreds of restaurant employees that I’ve worked with over the years, the novel will especially appeal to fans of Bret Easton Ellis, and Michael Chabon. I believe DEGENERATES would fit well among the genres your agency represents.

My publishing history spans sixteen years and over forty magazines. My degree in psychology, coupled with my experience writing psychological profiles for the New York Judicial System helped create the complex character biographies in this book. I’ve worked in restaurants for more than fifteen years as a chef, bartender, and manager. Please feel free to call or email. Thanks for your time.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

How’d this happen?

I woke up this morning and like every morning, the first thing I did after brushing my teeth and washing my face is go down to my office, wake my computer, and check my sales on KDP. Lo and behold, AFTER is moving copies. I also sold a few copies of INSECTLAND, DROP OUT, and SILENT INVASION, but AFTER is the winner today by far. So, I started thinking what I could have done differently the last few days that attracted the extra attention. I really haven’t been concentrating much on AFTER this week, spending a far more percentage of my time marketing my other books. Then I thought that perhaps the Substance Books online search engine generators were kicking in. But when I looked down at the heap of papers on the floor (I’m currently re-carpeting and painting my office) I got my definitive answer. Yesterday was my Kindle Nation ebook of the day sponsorship.  Obviously, the sponsorship created sales, but I’m more than a little bummed out in myself for not informing KND that I had raised my price of the book from $1.25 to $1.99. It all goes back to my “perceived value” post from a few weeks back. KND has the book advertised at the lesser rate which I’m sure disappointed a few readers when they went to the site. It was an expensive lesson to learn because this sponsorship was $150. I’ll know for next time to keep my sponsorship prices up to date.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The raw deal

Okay, for all my new followers, here’s the raw deal of what I’ve done in the way of promotions in the last four months and what the results are. First were the fiver ads on For five bucks people put your books and links on their blogs and websites. I did about fifteen different blogs with little result. My advice; don’t waste that hard earned five bucks. Then I did the article service where an article is ghost-written for you and then sent to thousands of journal sites and logs. It is supposed to drive interest and traffic to your book. The result; a complete waste of fifty bucks. Next, I ran an ad on Kindle Nation Daily for a whopping one hundred and fifty bucks. The result; some sales but not enough to justify the cost. Then I did a bunch of interviews on blogs and websites. The results; sales did increase on those days as well as followers to my blog increased. My advice; do as many interviews as you can. All while I’ve been doing this extra marketing, I’ve also been active on all the writers sites I mentioned a few posts back. The results; sales of my books are increasing every week and I’m getting lots of exposure. My latest sponsorship: has yielded some extra sales, but again, not enough to warrant the fifty dollar price tag. I still have nine more sponsorships this year on Kindle Nation Daily, Kindle Boards, and Kindle Fire Department. As I mentioned before, I’m focusing my ebook efforts on selling through Kindle. All in all, I think the best results have been through free promotions on KDP Select and posting and keeping active on the writer’s sites aforementioned. If my sales keep increasing at the same ratio month after month, I calculate that my books should be able to support me and my wife within five years. Pretty cool, eh?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


With all the hoopla surrounding my KDP select issue I almost forgot that one of my sponsorships started today. Here is the link for SILENT INVASION’s Frugal Ereader Book of the Day.  I signed up for this sponsorship because it was cheap and would give me more exposure. So far, I’ve only seen a few sales from the placement, but like I said, it just started. I’ll post the results in a week or so. Also, I’ve decided for now to not re-publish my books on Smashwords for at least ninety days. Kindle is just too important to me and Smashwords isn’t giving me enough sales to warrant using them for now. If I start to get a name for myself that may change, however.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

KDP select solved!

Well, I got my issue with KDP select solved… kinda. In a panic over the email I received, I quickly unpublished all my books from Smashwords, including my six that are in the premium catalog. I figured the trade-off was worth it considering I sell about five times as many books through Amazon. I also de-selected the automatic renewal for KDP select just in case any heat came down about my books being on Smashwords. Here’s the kicker. I got an email earlier today from KDP informing me that they are sorry to see me leave the program and I can join back up anytime. I checked, and I’m still enrolled, I guess until the ninety days are up. So, I re-published all my books back on Smashwords with the letter as proof that I tried to cancel. I still find it strange that Amazon would even offer me KDP select for books that have been out in e-form for almost two years. They had to know they’d be available in other outlets and that I would have no control over their distribution. Here’s the kicker. I’m having second thoughts about being on Smashwords at all. I know that I am eliminating possibly millions of readers but the honest truth is that Amazon is being very good to me. In fact, my recent free promo for INSECTLAND has resulted in many paid sales whereas before I had none for the month. Now, I am conflicted again. Should I unpublish on Smashwords again and then keep renewing the Amazon select program? I believe once the ninety days are up you can publish anywhere. I need to think about it for a few days and see how sale continue. Here’s the letter Amazon sent me.


We’re sorry to hear you’d like to cancel your content’s participation in KDP Select. If you don’t want to renew, simply go to the book’s “Edit book details” page anytime during the current term and uncheck the box next to “automatically renew this book’s enrollment in KDP Select for another 90 days.”
If you have additional questions about KDP Select, be sure to check out our Help pages. I hope this helps. Thanks for using Amazon KDP.

Friday, March 16, 2012

KDP select blues

I just received a form email from KDP informing me that my titles on the select program were also discovered being sold by about a half a dozen different outlets, including Kobo and Nook. They gave me the sites to check out, which actually is pretty cool that my books are so readily available now, but also informed me that I was not following the policy. Now, I absolutely do not want to piss off Amazon and it’s too late to have Smashwords remove all my titles from all the sites, so I figured I would cancel my participation in the select program. Well, guess what? There is no way to cancel it. This has set me into a wee bit of a panic. Getting booted from KDP would be devastating, though I don’t think it would get to be that drastic, but still, I don’t want to ruffle any feathers. I have contacted the KDP customer service and I am waiting for a reply. If you’re on the select program be careful because it seems that KDP now has search engines for books in the program. I know for a long time that most of the books on the program were available elsewhere so I guess KDP got smart. If I have to unpublish everything from Smashwords, I will. Amazon is far too important. I’m still getting residual sales from the free promotion for INSECTLAND, and I hadn’t any sales for the first week of this month. Love the select!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

So freaking nice!

Right now, as I sit inside my house and write this, it’s 75 degrees and beautiful sunshine here in Penssylvania. A perfect day. So, why am in front of my computer writing this blog post? Because that’s the only way I’m going to sell books. And if I sell enough books I can enjoy the nice days for the rest of my life. But I haven’t gotten to that point yet, so here I am making my presence known. Sometimes, I think I’m wasting away my life sitting in this office writing stories. Truth is, I make more money on a Saturday night bartending than I do in two weeks selling on Amazon and Smashwords. But as I’ve learned to accept myself as an artist, I’ve learned that it’s not about the money. A compulsion is a compulsion and the thrill that thousands (yes, I said thousands) of people have read my books gives me more of a rush than all the questionable substances I experimented with in my younger days. Alas, I am curse/blessed to be a writer for the rest of my life. Man, it’s so nice outside!
Okay, my free two day promotion of INSECTLAND yielded 165 downloads in U.S., 37 downloads in U.K. and 9 downloads in France. I made the mistake of running it from Saturday until Sunday instead of Friday until Sunday, mainly, because I got the dates screwed up. I think I would have had more sales had I done it properly through the weekend. I did notice a few extra sales after the promotion ended. Also, to my delight, the experiment over raising my prices so the “perceived value” of my books seemed higher appears to have made no difference in the sales per day. I guess if people are interested in reading something they’ll pay for it. One more thing, I discovered a new site for bloggers and/or writers who want free advertising. It’s free to join and you can post a promotion on their thread once an hour.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Best self promotion!

Best self promotion!
It’s been a while since I posted all the sites I use to market and promote my books. I figured since I have so many new blog followers (I’m up to 111 so far; thanks all for following) it would help anyone looking for greats sites to promote on. I’m just going to list them in no particular order. They’re easy to sign up and have friendly people in their forums. I recommend you download all your books to these sites for the exposure. I also post my blog on these sites and participate in groups. It has definitely driven sales.

The book marketing


Google stream

Kindle Boards

Kindle direct publishing meet our authors forum







--I also highly recommend the sites below for writing advice. You can post samples, or stories, or just ask a question. The people here are very friendly and have given me great free editing and advice over the years. But DO NOT self-promote here.

Absolutewrite water 


--Here is a list of sites I recommend all authors put their books on for display. I don’t participate much on these, but I always add my book, summary, and link to my account when I publish a new one. It’s all about exposure.



--Well, there it is, the secret to my promotional efforts are now laid bare. I spend between two and five hours involved in daily marketing and promoting on these sites, including posting on forums without self-promotion. But as I posted earlier, Kindle Boards allows you to place a picture and link of your book after each post so it’s like promoting anyway. Also, I’d like to announce that INSECTLAND is going to be free for Kindle on Sunday and Monday. Sales have been lagging so I hope this will boost interest. And Smashwords still has my books at a deep discount until tomorrow. I hope this list helps. Feel free to print it.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

A warning

Okay, I admit it. I made a boo boo. I posted on the U.K. Amazon readers site by mistake. What I did was confuse the codes Kindle Boards uses to create a picture of the cover. I posted on the U.K. site that I was conducting an experiment to see if this worked and posted along with the links. Well, let me tell you what happened. I got so many vicious replies, people accusing me of trying to sneak in self promotion (as if that’s punishable by death), people reading the book samples and then saying how much they sucked, people posting on the forum calling me all kinds of horrible things. I mean, the hatred really flew. But, here’s the kicker… the links didn’t even work. They were just codes of letters and numbers. These people went out of there way to find out about me so they could bash me for even the mere conception that I would try to promote. Even when I stated in my post I was just seeing if the links produces pictures of the cover. I don’t know, but it seems there must be a lot of people out there with lots of time on their hands. I posted about a similar experience on Amazon romance forum a few months back. That was a legitimate mistake on my part for openly promoting, but even after apologizing and removing the post, the hate and anger still came. My warning to all authors out there is to stay away from the Amazon forums altogether. It’s not worth the little promotion you get with all the jerks surfing them who have nothing better to do than rip apart your self-esteem. I’ve found some of the friendliest forums are: Kindle Boards, Book blogs, Kindle Direct Publishing community, and the writers groups on Linkedin. You still must follow their rules for posting and promotion, but I have yet to be so brutally attacked when I make a mistake. And my marketing mistakes are few and far between these days.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Doubling my audience

Just a quick post to announce that I’ve put all my books up for Smashwords read an ebook a day promotion. Since I’ve been spending almost all of my time promoting Kindle and Amazon, this opens up a whole new readership with Nook and many other ereader devices. I’ve got a great author site where you can get my books on these devices for 25% off during this week! Just use the coupon posted on the site.

I’m going to be spending quite a bit of energy promoting for the Nook. Having done next to zilch so far, I was surprised to see more than a hundred dollars in royalties in my Smashwords account and I’ve gotten four dollars more since last week. I see potential here. Big potential.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Numbers torture me

I just checked KDP unit sales and I sold nine books yesterday. Four in the U.S. and five in the U.K. Three months ago, I’d be thrilled at those numbers, but after the last two months of relatively heavy sales, these seem kind of low. Now, my depression will set in until those numbers get back up into the twenties. Lately, I’ve noticed a building obsession with checking my sales throughout the day. Having the ability to see books downloaded in real time is an amazing tool for keeping track but it can also drive you freaking crazy. In the pre-electronic age, authors never knew what the sales of their books were until the quarter was up. Having that “ignorant bliss” kept the steam rolling, and usually by the time you got the sales figures you’d be well on your way into your next project. This obsessive checking I do causes my mood to fluctuate greatly throughout the day. A few sales in the morning and I’m off to a wonderful breakfast. No sales at night, and I go into a depressive fear-sleep that I will never have another sale again. And then morning comes and I see a few sales and everything is okay again, for a while. Sometimes, I wish there was a setting where I could only see my sales figures once a week. I don’t have the will power to halt this addiction myself.
As far as the release of DEGENERATES this weekend, I guess we’ll see how it went on Monday. I’ve posted on most of my forums and started a few threads about the story. I also booked sponsorship on Kindle Nation Daily for the end of next month. For anyone who writes for a younger audience, KND is giving a full week on the front page of its new site for half the price of a normal sponsorship. I bought one for SILENT INVASION for the week of April 6th, figuring with Easter, there will be a lot of kids out of school and surfing the net. We’ll see how that goes.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Degenerates live!

The ebook version of DEGENERATES is finally live!
Yeah! Now, comes the tedious part of releasing a new book. First, I have to place the cover, description, and link to purchase on all my author/writer sites of which I’m currently on thirty-two. (I will place a list of all the sites I belong to on a future post for reference.) Then, I’ve got to announce the book on all these sites plus another twelve social media sites that I belong to. If that’s not enough promo, I then will sign back onto all the threads that promote “liking” and tagging and start getting the numbers up. Then, I will do the same thing for the U.K., France, Germany, and Italy. Then, I’m going to set up sponsorship dates on KND and Kindle Fire Department. Whew! And that’s just what I’m doing on Friday. I’m very excited about the release of DEGENERATES. It sold well in paperback and I got a lot of great feedback from readers and fans. I’m hoping the sales soar in ebook form. The paperback version was priced way too expensive and I think that really hurt sales and reader’s discovery of me. I plan another two releases of my noir thrillers in the next two months. Then I’m going to do a reread of WASTED, the book I finished last summer and get that out there. All the while, I’ll keep plugging away at IMAGINATION. I am up to page 75 single-spaced. I anticipate a late summer finish for that one. Look for my promo blitz for DEGENERATES starting tomorrow.