Tuesday, October 23, 2012

How to blog

When I first started blogging I wrote about the dumbest things. I wrote egotistical articles about how cool I was to write books and have people admire me; basic self-serving crap. Then I started into the indie revolution in book publishing and my content changed. I spent a few months blogging about the nuts and bolts of writing, editing, designing a cover, and publishing an ebook from scratch. And lo and behold, I started getting followers. As I continued to blog every other day about the indie publishing world I got even more followers and my hit meter started to fly off the charts. One post got over 14,000 hits. I began to realize what posts got the most reads. Posts that incorporated a bit of my personal life, mixed with the actuality of the book publishing market, and usually sprinkled with a little universal anecdote at the close. I’ve found that using your blog strictly as a marketing tool for your works isn’t enough. Readers bore quickly of the day to day self-promotion and want to LEARN something from the blog. I try to impart a bit of my twenty-five years plus experience of publishing stories, books, and poetry into each post to save writers from making the same (sometimes costly) mistakes that I have made in getting to the level of selling books on a daily basis. So my advice to new author-blog owners is to post from the heart about your writing and publishing experiences and don’t spend every word promoting your own material. If the articles you write are good, talent will come across on your posts and you will get resultant book sales. My blog is my web presence, my introduction of myself to my readers, and my way of telling the world about my life. Keep your content interesting and followers will come. The kinds of followers you want. The kind that are interested in you.


Sunday, October 21, 2012

Patience, oh man.

All good things come to those who wait, isn’t that what they say? Patience is a virtue? And I totally agree. And I’ve been patient, Lord, I’ve been. But how long can I keep it up? Writing a minimum of three hours a day, everyday; marketing and promoting at least an hour a day, more if I don’t write as much, jotting down notes on napkins, and bits of paper. And it is paying off, as anyone who reads my blog or follows me on social networks knows. I have sold thousands of ebooks and given away tens of thousands in promotions. But my patience to hit it big is wearing thin. This usually happens when I’m near completion of a book as I am with IMAGINATION. Self-doubt begins to creep in overshadowing the grand accomplishment of actually finishing a book. I get antsy that more people haven’t discovered me and sometimes feel lost on how to get more exposure. But as always, these doubts will lift as I begin the process of getting my newest onto Amazon and Smashwords and into the world. As I look at the last two years since my first ebook AFTER was published, I do get a rise in how much my blog has grown and how many people read it (to date more than a quarter million hits). My sales, though impressive to some, are still way below what I’d hoped them to be, especially in the U.K where it almost seems like I’ve dropped off the map. I do have three prominent promotions coming up for three different books. Maybe that will get the ball rolling again. Just one viral pop, that’s all I’m asking for. One chance for millions to get a glimpse of what I do and the kinds of stories I write. Then if sales disappear I’ve got only myself to blame. Even then I’ll still write. It’s what I’m hard-wired to do.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Achieving what?

I’ve been doing the interview thing again and recently I was asked something that I hadn’t been asked before. The questioned posed to me was, “what do you hope to achieve with your writing?” Now, I had to think about that one for a bit before I could give a response. For you see, I’m actually not looking to achieve anything with my writing except to provide people with entertainment. I’m not looking to win any big awards (though I’m not opposed). I don’t think I’m going to get rich from this (though that would be nice, too). And I’m not looking at my writing as a way to meet women (I’m married). So what exactly am I doing? Well, I describe my books as quick, exciting reads, without mind-numbingly boring character details, but memorable ones, and plots that are both absolutely unique and jarring at the same time. I don’t think my books will ever hit the mainstream market, but I could get a viral following of readers who want to experience a different kind of story. As one of my fans put it in an email to me, she said “I love your novels because I can read them in a few hours, which is good, because I can never put them down once I start one.” Such high praise makes me blush. But seriously, the freedom of writer’s these days is crazy. I will NEVER have a publisher or agent tell me to rewrite a novel again! In the early days, I had several publishers tell me to take out the best parts of my novels because they felt it wouldn’t sell to the mainstream public. Well, guess what? I don’t want to sell to the mainstream public. I want to sell to people who are interested in reading something they’ve never read before. No boring, conventional, formulaic, mainstream stories here. Check them out.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Who to become?

As my latest novel, IMAGINATION nears completion I am beginning to feel antsy to start a new project and my thoughts are edging toward what I should write next. In other words, who should I become for the next year? I’ve had a good time being the characters in IMAGINATION, but it’s time I put them to rest and create someone new. Should I become a psycho killer like in FROSTPROOF, DEGENERATES, and PULP? Or should I become a traveler of time and space, like in DREAM TRAVELER, AFTER, and SILENT INVASION, to name a few of the novels I’ve written? I often spend an enormous amount of time thinking about my next book before I begin, because I know it will consume me for months, especially now that winter is approaching which will keep me indoors and at my computer. I have a few ideas beginning to stir and I’m kind of thinking I may go back to my roots and write a fast-paced, quirky, psycho-thriller. I feel the need to gut my frustrations and have a little bloody fun. I also still have two more completed books sitting in a drawer, maturing. I may bust one out during a snowstorm this winter and see if I can get it into publishable shape. Since I am a perfectionist when it comes to my novels, and I think of them as my children, I would never send one into the world until I’m certain it’s ready. Just a few more weeks of tweaking and my latest should be on the market. Its newest tagline: Because we all die nothing can be real – IMAGINATION.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Long Night

I generally feel the urge to blog about every two or three days, but for the last several days I’ve been silent. There’s a reason. It started with my wife having sharp pains in her side. She, being a tough woman, tried to ignore it and refused to go to the doctor even at my urging. Finally, on Monday she went. To make a long story short, three hours later she was getting prepped for surgery for an emergency appendectomy and I was sitting in the critical care unit waiting room. It was late and I was the only one there. In the course of her surgery, visiting hours also had ended so the hallways went vacant. I picked up a magazine and started reading, quickly discovering the magazine was from 2008. It had been sitting in this waiting room for more than four years. That got my writer mind going, thinking about all the people who had thumbed through these pages while their loved ones were being operated on and possibly fighting for their lives. It intrigued me in a slightly morbid way that my worries and fears for my own wife’s safety were universal, as if I was connected to thousands of people who had sat in this very chair during moments of crisis. As I looked about the empty, silent waiting area I could imagine the stress and tension. I could almost feel the sorrow of those who would learn that their loved ones did not make it. At that moment, I was in the loneliest place on Earth. About an hour later, a nurse cheerily popped her head in to tell me that my wife was fine and the surgery a complete success. My elation at the news momentarily cleared my writer’s mind and my full attention immediately focused on wanting to see her. As the nurse led me down the Critical Care Unit hallway my mind switched back once again to writer mode. The reason; I passed the rooms of those who would soon be deceased. The rooms that had the dreaded ‘no longer feed’ sign attached to their files. The doors were open and I was able to see their faces, drooped in the death mask, their skin so pale it reflected the hallway light. Some were conscious and their eyes shifted and followed me as I passed. But most were mere containers, waiting for their soul to be released. It creeped me out, yet fascinated me at the same time, wondering what these people were thinking, knowing their lives were coming to an end. I tried to capture that feeling when I wrote DROP OUT, but to see it for real left a powerful impression. When I finally reached the room my wife was in I was happily surprised that she was awake, in good spirits, and no longer in pain. Now, a few days later, she’s on the road to recovery. I told her about my walk, and the thoughts I had during, and she just looked at me and said in that sarcastic, snarky, tone that I love; “Maybe I’ll have Gall bladder issues and you can get a book out this.” I would have hugged her but I was afraid I might rip the stitches.  

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Money to make money

Well, here I am again at that crossroads where I need to do something to push me beyond the steady, but stagnant sales of the last month. It appears blogging and posting on free sites has worn thin and most of the people who I got interested in my books have already purchased them. So, what do I do next? I already invested $100 bucks into a KND book of the day sponsorship for DROP OUT in November, and I have two more sponsorships with Kindle Boards Book of the Day in December, one for AFTER and one for SILENT INVASION. But is that enough? With Kindle releasing new versions at cheaper prices, should I do more? This next year could be the absolute golden year for Amazon and Kindle and may be the last time they will rule the marketplace. There’s so many new ereader devices coming out that it is inevitable Kindle will slow. My books are available on these new devices so I’m not too worried about losing any of my target audience, I just believe the time to take action with Kindle is now. That said, how much money do I invest? I will admit that I have been putting royalty checks and extra bits of money here and there for advertising and promotional purposes and the nest egg has grown quite a bit. I’ve been hemming and hauling on KND’s new promotional package that blasts the book to over 100,000 opt-in readers. Readers who are looking to buy ebooks. It all comes down to numbers, of course. The risk of investing more than $300 in a two-day campaign is frightening especially if it yields little or no results. However, if just a small percentage, (less than one percent) of the people who receive the blast purchases the book, the campaign will make money. If I decide to do the sponsor it will be for DROP OUT, which is by far my best seller and has gotten the most rave reviews, not just on Amazon, but on at least a dozen other sites. It also won Indie Book of the Day. I’ll probably ponder the investment for the rest of this afternoon but in the end I’ll probably book it. After all, it takes money to make money, right?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Wow, two-hundred!

Wow, I’ve surpassed the two-hundred followers mark on my blog! I want to thank all who follow me especially because I know you follow this blog because you want to. I didn’t go to any threads just to collect followers to have high numbers. I painstakingly wrote my articles and promoted my blog to writers and readers. Very few of you who follow me are my personal friends, although I’d like to think that everyone who reads my stuff is a friend. You all know what I mean, I didn’t solicit you. I hope the information I’ve provided and experiences that I documented over the past year-and-a-half this blog has been around has proved useful and my own mistakes in the indie, self-publishing world have saved you from making the same. Especially when it came to all the money I blew learning how to properly market and promote my novels and doing everything wrong at first. I’ll continue to provide my insights and learning, my ponderings and musings, and continue to write novels for as long as I have readers. I’d probably do it even if I had no readers. I’m sure so would most of you.