Tuesday, May 29, 2012

What works

The Kindle Daily Nation sponsorship for DEGENERATES yielded okay results. I was hoping for a few more sales than I actually made, but at least the exposure was good. It caused several dozen more hits on my blog than usual and I have now surpassed the 170,000 hit mark. That’s a lot of hits, but even with that I didn’t reach my total sales goals for the month. Though I did have enough that I’m pretty satisfied a momentum will build over time. I’ve also discovered that posting on Amazon.com meet our authors forum and KDP boards actually do get results. I stopped posting for a few days because of real-life work related issues and then started posting again the other day. I did see sales increase after posting. Keep in mind, I don’t recommend self-promoting as a topic of discussion because you can get some pretty mean replies. But there are many topics set up for authors to self-promote without fear of repercussion. I blast out a different book each day and then monitor to see if the sales have increased more for that book. I also keep track of what sites to promote on and then alternate so I can see which sites get results. I have seen pretty good sales from this technique, almost as good as paying for sponsorship. As I continue to promote (which is easy when we’re sweltering on the east coast), I’m also getting ready to publish PULP in ereader form. Unlike my other novels published through iuniverse, PULP was never in electronic format. It should be interesting to see how that one sells. I’m excited to see the cover. As always, I recommend Judy Bullard. She’s done all of mine.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Writing vs. Working vs. Reality

As summer approaches and the breezes grow warmer, I find myself more immerse in the reality of life than the fantasy world I create while sitting at my desk. The job that pays my bills gets busier this time of year and I find myself with less and less hours to write, and a miniscule amount of time to market and promote my books. Thus, the dismal May sales. We are an impulse society and without a constant web presence, you’re quickly lost in the ocean of advertisers. Though collectively my books sold pretty well, I feel I could have had a lot more success if only I had more time. As I wrote in DROP OUT, ‘time is the most precious thing.’ Individually, my books had pretty wide spread sales. Some like DEGENERATES and DROP OUT did fairly well, while AFTER didn’t fair well at all. Looking at sales over a long term, as I am beginning to be able to do, I can now concentrate on more promotion of books with less sales, and rely on less promotion for the high sales. Hopefully, this will increase all sales overall, if that makes any sense. I do have a promotion going on right now which I am about to market throughout my sites. Today, I am Kindle Nation Daily’s sponsor. I chose DEGENERATES for this promotion because of the genre switch from my last promotion which was DROP OUT. Here’s the link please check it out.  http://kindlenationdaily.com/2012/05/kdd-may-27/
If I’m lucky, this promotion will help hit the sales figures I need to maintain my three-year plan to live solely off royalties from my books. And in the new book department, I’m still writing IMAGINATION (about 500 words a day) but it’s nowhere near where I wanted it to be at this point. Chalk that one up to the busier paycheck workweek. I’ll report on the success or failure of this latest sponsorship in a later post. So far, sales have only increased slightly but an email from KND this morning said I probably wouldn’t see results until later this afternoon when they blast it out to their Facebook, Twitter, and email accounts. Guess we will see.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Anything can happen

When it comes to indie publishing on Kindle I’ve learned to expect the unexpected when sales are involved. There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to why books sell on some days and don’t on others. The key is to market and promote on a regular basis. That said, I’ve been feeling frustrated with my sales lately, having set sales goals that far exceed what my actual sales are this month. I set these goals several months ago when it was colder and my books were selling, and it seemed like my writing career was well on its way. But then something happened and sales remained stagnant and then actually started to fall. I went into a kind of panic (I’m sure all writers are familiar with this) that no one would ever read my books again and that I would never have another sale. Feeling a bit like a failure, I decided to give SILENT INVASION a free three-day promo this past weekend. I didn’t really hype it all that much as truth be told, I didn’t really have time. The promo went well and I gave away about four hundred books in three countries. That made me feel pretty good that I got a new group of readers, but what made me feel even better was that when I checked sales this morning I saw that INSECTLAND was way up. INSECTLAND is the second book in the three book series. DREAM TRAVELER is the third. I’m assuming my sales of INSECTLAND are directly related to the free promotion. If that’s the case, I should see sales of DREAM TRAVELER rise over the next few weeks. Also, I’m now in the process of getting FROSTPROOF on all my sites and then will begin a marketing and sponsorship campaign for that one. Iuniverse gave me back all rights to the electronic versions of my books so PULP is my next novel to go live worldwide. I’ll probably have that one ready to go by end of June. I do have a sponsorship for DEGENERATES coming up on May 27th on Kindle Nation Daily. My last sponsorship on that site was for DROP OUT and it ended up selling a lot of copies. My fingers are crossed for DEGENERATES because it will open up my YA readers to my adult noir thrillers and once readers get a taste of them anything can happen.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The chill is live!

Get ready to meet one of the world’s creepiest serial killers. That’s right! FROSTPROOF is now live on Kindle and available world-wide.
As always, with the release of a new book come all the back-breaking, sore-eyes, aching-fingers, promotion and marketing that comes along with it. Here’s my new book marketing plan in detail. First, I’ll place FROSTPROOF on the twenty-seven writer’s sites that I belong. Next, I’ll go on all the writer’s forums and announce the book. I’ll encourage people to ‘like’ the FROSTPROOF webpage and to tag the book on AMAZON. This should help increase exposure both through social networking and search engine optimization. Next, I’ll book a few sponsorships on Kindle Nation Daily and Kindle Boards. I’ll also tweet on Twitter and announce the book on Facebook, and then set all the links to buy it. Whew! FROSTPROOF was the first of my serial killer books to come out in hardback and I’m very excited to see what the new Kindle version will do in sales. The hard copy did pretty well and I got some great reviews. As far as my other books, sales have dropped significantly since last month, though I am still selling better than most people according to what I’ve been reading on forums. I’m hoping it’s because it’s May and that’s when everyone finishes school or graduates. I also think it’s may be that I’ve been a bit lazy in my marketing efforts lately. I’ve still working on my latest novel, IMAGINATION for two hours every morning, but it’s been hard to sit and market in the afternoon when the sun is pouring golden light across the emerald lawn of my back yard while the birds call for me to come out and play. I’m hoping the release of FROSTPROOF will kick me back into high gear promotion. I’ve got a long way to meeting my sales goals this month and it’s a bit disappointing.

Friday, May 11, 2012

The zone

The other day as I was writing I heard a sudden, loud knocking at my office door. I turned my head to see who could have caused such a ruckus and behold, it was my wife.

“Didn’t you hear me?” she asked.

“Uh, no,” I replied, somewhat in a daze from being pummeled out of my imaginary world.

“I thought you were ignoring me,” she grumbled. “The trash stinks. It needs to go out.”

“I wasn’t ignoring you,” I replied. “I’m working on my latest novel. I was in the zone.”

She turned to head back into the hallway and said; “Well, can you break away from the zone for a moment and take out the rotting refuse in the kitchen?”

“Sure,” replied, doing my best to appease this woman who puts up with all of my eccentricities, quirks, and obsessively reclusive writer ways. “I’ll do it now.”

Not a very glamorous discussion by any means but it makes my point. When I start to really get into a story I go into a zone where all distractions are muted. Time will slip away and my surroundings will blur. This is creating something from nothing at its finest. There is no television show or video game that can compare to playing with characters and scenes inside your own mind. There is no drug or alcoholic drink that can take me to the places my imagination can. The zone is a place all for myself and I sometimes regret that I cannot share the zone with anyone else. My wife doesn’t understand why I sometimes get miffed when she calls me out of the office for such trivial matters as taking out the trash. My biggest problem is once that bubble of solitary thought is burst it’s very hard to re-inflate it. She doesn’t understand that the stinky trash may have just disrupted the war between the Cyderion and the Defenders in INSECTLAND or allowed Tommy Fielding to murder another innocent victim in DEGENERATES (had to get some plugs in here somewhere). I’ve heard athletes talk of the zone, but that’s a physical dimension. The zone for me is purely mental. And as I finish this blog entry, I feel the tingly beginnings of the zone coming on and a writing session to follow. I already checked that the trash cans were empty so I’m good to go.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Creating Characters

I’m often asked how I create my characters. At last count I have somewhat in the neighborhood of seventy-five to eighty relatively strong characters. By strong, I mean these characters actually have back stories and personalities that come across on the page. Some are absolutely terrifying, like Cody Larson in FROSTPROOF and Tommy Fielding in DEGENERATES. Some are adventurous, like Tim Madison in SILENT INVASION, and Jamie Richards in DREAM TRAVELER, and some are tragic, yet beautiful, like Nathan Cruz and Miriam Kanter in DROP OUT. All of my characters have one thing in common. They are not modeled after any single person. You see, my characters are a conglomeration of people I’ve known and associated with over the course of my life. I can’t say that one certain character has more of someone than another character. This always seems to perplex my friends and associates who often tell me this or that character is just like them. It seams most people are hoping their personality will be immortalized in story form. I’ve even had an old girlfriend get angry with me because she thought the character Astor in DEGENERATES was too much like her. I had to assure her that Astor was NOT based on her, but on at least eight different people, most of whom I went to college with. When I write I transform and become my characters. I become the clairvoyant prostitute in PULP and the daring young man fighting an alien insect invasion in INSECTLAND. I immerse myself in that world and create the fantasy. It would be hard for me to pretend to be someone I know, if that makes any sense.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Fresh month

Another fresh month is upon us and that means another start at zero for my books sales count. Last month ended pretty well with a last couple of days blitz that netted enough sales to reach my goals. However, it was a tough struggle, not helped by the fact that I was on vacation for nine days and did little in terms of marketing and promotion (not that I’m complaining). My sales goals for this month may be unreachable since I don’t have any sponsorships planned for this month. It’s going to be sweat and tears, grass roots marketing for a while. I really need to do the interview thing again because I’m craving exposure. Here’s a website that was sent to me that lists over 100 bloggers and sites that are looking for interviews. http://www.gregscowen.com/2012/02/a-few-indie-book-reviewers/ I haven’t tried to contact these yet, so I don’t know how effective they are. But I will soon. FROSTPROOF is in the hands of my ebook editor and should be available for purchase later this week. I’ve already gotten some rave reviews and the cover is one of my best, I believe. The hardcopy sold well, but it was too expensive to ever become a blockbuster. This was the result of my publisher setting the price. With the Kindle version, it’ll be priced alongside my other books at $1.99, opening it up to a whole new audience. Also, as my ninety day exclusive KDP select contract starts to expire, I’m beginning to set my books up with Smashwords and the world of other ereaders that the site opens you up to. I’ll admit, I’ve been lazy lately when it comes to the hardcore, hours-long, back-aching promotion that it takes to garner sales, but it’s just been so freaking nice outside. And as I wrote about in DROP OUT, you only get so many days until your time on this dimension are up.