Thursday, August 30, 2012

As real as it gets

I recently read an article about a company that would give your book a review for a price. They claim that the reviews aren’t biased and the reviewer will be honest if they didn’t like the book. Now, I know hundreds if not thousands of these companies exist so I’m no dummy, but it seems to me that it would be bad business to give an author a bad paid review especially if the author has several books under his belt and may use the service again. This leads me to the conclusion that investing even one penny into these services is not worth it. Now, you may say well, who cares if the review is fake, if it’s favorable it will get more people to read your book. That may be true in the short term (very short term) but will most likely be detrimental in the end. Here’s why. Suppose you pay for ten different reviews that will be sent out across the web. These are, of course, glowing adorations of your work. Now, Amazon has a verified purchase deterrent from these kinds of fake reviews but that’s a whole other animal exclusive to Amazon. What about all the other sites the review will be on? Okay, so you have these ten amazing reviews of your masterpiece that the world is now discovering and reading. Suddenly, you see your sales numbers go up. “Ah,” you think to yourself, “the dream is happening. I’m going to be rich and famous.” And then, about two weeks later sales stop. You wonder why and Google your book to see what’s happening. That’s when, horror upon horrors, you see not only the ten glowing reviews of your book, but also dozens and dozens of bad reviews. So many bad reviews that the ten are eclipsed in a sea of negativity. “I’m ruined,” you think, and hang your head low. Don’t let this happen to you. Don’t pay for fake reviews that only trap eager readers who will then turn against you when they realize your stuff is crap (if it is). With my books, I don’t have that many reviews yet but the reviews I do have are one hundred percent real and honest! Not one friend or family member has written anything on my behalf. And you know what? The good reviews keep coming and my sales keep increasing. Just check them out and you’ll see. How’s that for honesty?

Monday, August 27, 2012

A real writer?

There comes a point in every artist’s career where he must decide what his talent is worth. When I started publishing on KDP I was just starting out in the ebook revolution and like many writers, thought nothing would come of it. People would scoff and say that I’m not a ‘real’ writer because I never published traditionally. Well let me tell them something, I had an agent and wasted four years trying to make it as a ‘real’ writer. Four years waiting for some suit to decide my future, hoping for an advance large enough to justify the amount of hours I’ve spent sitting in front of a computer screen. All that time trying to break into traditional publishing just so I could tell everyone I was a real writer. That’s when I had an epiphany about people who label someone in the arts. What separates a real writer from someone who writes? Here are my criteria for calling oneself a true author. First, have you written a complete novel that can be sold to the general public? In my case, eight so far with another three on the way. Second, do people actually read the book whether they paid for it or got it free. Again, I can answer yes to that one because to date over 12,000 of my books have been downloaded. Third, is writing something that you do on a daily basis and feel disconnected and out-of-sorts if you don’t put something down on the page? I write a minimum of two hours a day nearly every day of the year (travel days excluded). And the final criteria by which I judge someone to be a real writer is the obvious, do you make money off your books even if it’s just a few bucks a year? That one for me answers itself. So, there you have it. If you can say yes to these questions than I would say that you’re for real and should be proud to be a writer and anyone who disagrees is an ***. As I’ve posted before, I believe traditional publishing is dead and we are in the midst of a new indie revolution that will conquer tradition. I’m proud to be a part of it.

Friday, August 24, 2012

The secret

I’ve been thinking about hiring Smith Publicity when I’m finished writing IMAGINATION and have spent the last few days researching them and all they do. If I do sign with them it would mean huge exposure by the ways of television and radio interviews. For some authors they have gotten over fifty interviews. The question is will the royalties made by more exposure offset the costs of a major publicity firm? I haven’t contacted them yet so I don’t know what they charge but I’m assuming it’s in the thousands. The other question is whether I am ready to actually do interviews? Now, I’m not a novice at these things and have done more than a dozen blog interviews and writer’s site interviews, so I have a pretty good idea of what to say and even have a few catch phrases that come in handy. The difference is those were written interviews so I had time to think about my answers. Live is a whole different story. I might even have to shave and cut my hair if I go on TV. Hiring a commercial publicist is a huge risk if my books don’t sell but I think it may be worth it. I’ve reached a level where just posting my blog and self-promoting on writer’s sites isn’t hitting the mass audience I’ve been hoping to acquire. With enough five star reviews of my books from strangers I know my stuff is good, but I know I’m not reaching my full potential of readers. And if I read one more time in the KDP newsletter about an indie author selling thousands of books a day I’m going to scream. One thing those author’s never reveal in their interviews is how they managed to gain that kind of an audience. Sure, they say they spend hours a day marketing but they never tell you in detail what they do. Can someone please tell me the secret to success if there is one? Working hard and perseverance aren’t doing it quickly enough.

Monday, August 20, 2012

When to give up?

Nobody ever said it would be easy. Nobody ever said it was always going to be fun. Nobody promised me that after spending twenty-plus years holed up in my office writing novels that anyone would ever read them. Nobody promised me anything would ever come of my writing and yet I still do it. Day after day, year after year, I sit in front of this keyboard and tap out the characters and worlds inside my mind. To date, I think I have more than sixty unique, fully-fleshed characters in all twelve of my novels. In my books, I’ve been to other planets, experienced other dimensions, felt unimaginable loss, murdered, loved, hated, been promiscuous; I’ve done just about everything I’ve always wanted to do without ever leaving this room. And yet, nobody ever promised me that anything would ever come of this “hobby”. Did I ever think of giving up? If you’re a real writer than the answer is of course, most certainly not! Telling a writer to give up and stop the craft is like telling a person with the most cataclysmic bout of diarrhea to stop pooping (thank you Stephen King for that analogy). There is no giving up and there is no stopping an artist with the drive to create. If the digital revolution had never happened and I never had made a dime off of my books would I still be spending hour after hour day after day in front of my keyboard? Absolutely! Writing is a habit I can’t stop and I don’t know any other way to live my life. For more than two decades I have not given up and have not stopped writing and as a result this week I sold over 150 books in five countries and samples and promo’s have been downloaded more than 4,000 times. None of this would have ever happen if I had just taken the easy route and given up. Never!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Making a living

There is no greater personal satisfaction for me than watching the sales numbers for my books go up. It’s not even that I’m earning money from my art that excites me but that my books are actually being read by strangers. Lots of strangers. I know, I know, I’ve said that a thousand times, but it’s just so true. I’m still getting residual sales from the free promotion last week and that officially makes DROP OUT my biggest bestseller to date with well over a thousand paid sales. DEGENERATES is coming in at a close second. Both these books had a four day free promotion at KDP Select which threw them over the top in sales compared to my other novels. AFTER is still selling a few copies a day, but as I said in past posts, my other sci-fi/fantasy books have gone a little stagnant. I’m hoping it’s because of school beginning and all the distractions of that hot mess. Now that my KDP Select contract is winding down I’m going to have to find other ways to give my sales a boost. I’m thinking of doing another paid promotion and I am researching the best sites to place an ad. I’ve also come across this little gem. 45 Places to Promote Your Ebook.  I’m going to start at the beginning and do one a day, and hopefully in 45 days I’ll have my books on all these sites. I will admit that it is time consuming to join the site and then download all my info, but if it results in more exposure than it’s worth it. All in all, this had been a tremendous month for my sales and we still have two weeks left. My hope now, is that I’ll start getting reviews (hopefully good ones) and then I can start to promote those in my blurbs. Though it’s been nearly two years since I left my agent and went indie, it seems my dues are beginning to pay and I’m edging ever closer to making a living as a full-time novelist.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Records may break

What a difference a month makes for my sales. From a lackluster July to a booming August. Sales of DROP OUT have skyrocketed over the last week as well as my other adult books. Right now I’m on par to break my all time sales month of last January. Strangely though, my sci-fi/fantasy books are not selling well this month. Perhaps, kids are gearing up for school and losing interest in spending their ‘endless summer’ reading fiction. I don’t know. I do know that more and more people are buying ereaders whether adults or children. And how do I know this? Because everyone I know is buying one or plans on buying one. For an indie author, that’s music to my ears. I envision a day when millions of my books will be read (even if people get them free) and thousands of people will want to read my next works. I know what everyone is thinking, ‘why do it if you don’t get paid?’. I think for me, I’ve reached a level in writing where I am satisfied just knowing my stuff if out there for people to enjoy. I’ve gone the corporate route with publishing, had a NY agent, sent thousands of queries, proposals, and outlines to make a sale, and yet what gives me the most pride and joy is when someone emails me and tells me how much they enjoyed my work, not how much money I made off them. I think that is the ultimate reward for any artist: appreciation. So, if I break my own sales record this month that would be amazing, if I don’t, that’s okay, too. I know that last month more than 6,000 of my books were downloaded, and to me, that’s pretty cool.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Saying goodbye

As I say goodbye to KDP Select, I must say that it has been a good ride. My last two free promotions yielded a combined 5,764 books given away that resulted in a surge of paid sales that is still running with momentum. I am now down to the wire with giveaways because I only have one book left that still has promotion days and only two others that are still on KDP Select, and they are about to expire. One the flip side, Smashwords just announced a huge deal with libraries that will allow Smashwords distribution. Smashwords is turning into a huge indie publisher and has been getting good write-ups in the NY times about its success. I’m glad I got in on the ground floor with this site and now have all eight of my published novels in the Smashwords premium catalog. Though the vast majority of my sales still come from Amazon and Kindle, I foresee a future where Smashwords publishing will play a huge role in my sales. Though it hurts now to lose all that KDP Select offers, I’m thinking long-term author survival here and logic dictates that I move out from just one publisher. I commend those authors who stick with KDP Select, for it is a good starting point, but alas, I must travel on. A few other interesting things going on in my struggles to hit it big time are that the literary agency who is interested in me still hasn’t responded, though I did send a requested 50 page sample so it may take some time. My latest novel, IMAGINATION is slowly coming to an end. I’ve gotten over the dregs and am now gleefully writing, filling in the plot, and adding grit to the characters. I still anticipate a late fall completion. And my blog and related blog sites on Author’s Den, Linked in, and such, have now reached the quarter-million hit mark. That’s right, 250,000! I only hope my post have some interest and give a little insight into the writing life and I’m not boring everyone to death.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Last chance!

Hello everyone! Hope all are having a great day! Now is your last chance to get DROP OUT absolutely free! Promotion ends soon.

Leave this life exhausted.


When the Twin Towers fell, Nathan Cruz saved the lives of dozens of strangers but the one life he could not save was that of his pregnant fiancĂ©. Wracked with survivor’s guilt and unresolved goodbyes, Nathan drops out of society where he lives self-sufficiently on a houseboat in Florida. A twist of fate lands him into the home of Miriam Kanter, a young, fiercely independent woman with a shocking secret. Alone together in the midst of a raging hurricane, Nathan discloses the nearly unbearable sorrows of his past and finds strength to piece his shattered life back together. Being with Miriam, he feels the connection he’d been missing, stirring up feelings buried long ago. But will Miriam’s own life cut short and plunge Nathan back into his world of reclusive isolation?

Saturday, August 4, 2012


Read a story that will stay with you long after you finish it – FREE! Get your copy now!

After overcoming incredible personal tragedy Nathan Cruz meets a terminal, young woman who helps him find the strength to piece his shattered life back together.

DROP OUT is a beautiful tapestry of life, love, and acceptance that is moving, romantic, and real.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Agent – yes or no?

I was recently contacted by a prominent NY literary agency who shall remain nameless at this point about possible representation. They got wind of me because of my constant promotional efforts and then explored a little deeper into the kinds of books I write. They have not said they will definitely represent me but want to see more samples of my writing and my future projects. I am having a tough time trying to decide what to do about this sudden interest in me so I’ve listed the pros and cons of having an agent at this point in the game. First the pros: It will open me up to a higher level of the industry; also, I may get a large advance (though advances are rapidly disappearing), I can tell all my friends I have a big-time agent… that’s about it. I’m sure there’s more, but that’s the gist if I don’t have to worry about contracts, clauses, and timeframes. Now the cons of having an agent: I can’t write whatever I want and must adhere to what someone else will think will sell, I can only put out a book a year even if I write more, I have to wait a minimum of two years for a book to go through the publishing process before it even gets on a shelf, (if bookstores still even exist at that point), my royalties will be less than half what I make now, I have to wait for committees and meetings and budget proposals before I even know if my book will be published, it will only be published if the house thinks it will make them money— I’ve had enough! Although it is as alluring to sign with an agent as it is to eat the forbidden apple, I must confess I think I’m done with the corporate BS for good. When I was signed with Gary Heidt at FinePrint Lit and then Signature Lit., we came close to signing a deal so many times my heart just couldn’t take it anymore. The last straws for me was when SILENT INVASION was rejected, not because the editor didn’t think it was good (he said it was great) but because their marketing department said it wouldn’t appeal to girls age 9-12. Another editor (the VP of Random House Children’s Division) requested and read AFTER in one night. He got back to Gary the next day praising the book, but said he had no idea how he would get it passed the dozens of hurdles needed to publish when the story was so non-mainstream. He rejected it. Sitting here, thinking back to those heartbreaking days and thinking about the joy I feel every time I see another of my books sell on Kindle or Nook, I just can’t justify signing away my artistic freedom to reaffirm my ego. I see the future of authors working with traditional publishers and I don’t think it’s as rosy as some would like. I think I’ll stay indie, thank you.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

What next?

I finally finished putting my hardcopy corrections of IMAGINATION onto the file version. It was a grueling seventeen hours of nothing but eyestrain and sore back and fingers, but alas, it was all worth it. Now, it’s smooth sailing until the manuscript is complete. I have four chapters that are outlined but need to be written and I have two characters that I have to flesh out their backgrounds a little more, but otherwise the basic book is done. It always feels strange to me when I’m nearing completion of a project that has taken nearly a year to create. Usually fear is the first emotion and that’s for two reasons. First, as all writers, I fear the manuscript will suck (pardon my bluntness), and the second, the most pervasive fear, is what am I going to write about next. For me, an entire novel will come in one five minute burst of inspiration. Usually, I get about ten of these bursts before one really sticks with me. The certain golden idea will come and stay in my mind day after day and night after night until I begin the writing process. It always starts with a very brief summary of the story I want to tell and the characters I want to have in the book. Then I usually write a few really bad, quick chapters to see if I like the characters and want to continue. If I get twenty pages into a beginning the story will probably come to fruition. But what if that never happens again? What if I finish IMAGINATION and that’s it. Kaplooey. No more inspiration and no more books to write. I sometimes wonder what I would do with all that time on my hands. I wonder what hobbies I’d pursue or activities I would participate in. I wonder how my wife would feel if I spent an extra twenty hours a week by her side? Probably drive her crazy since she’s grown quite accustom to my writing schedule. Yep, that pervasive fear that IMAGINATION will be the last book I ever write can be consuming at times. But then, I remember the folder marked ideas and the hundreds of pieces of scrap and notebook paper scribbled with plots, subplots, and characters who have yet to come to life. And my fear dwindles… but just a little.