Friday, June 29, 2012

How awesome!

Wanted to let everyone know that my novel, DROP OUT is today’s Kindle Nation Daily’s sponsor. Please check it out. It’s a powerful read. Thank you.                                     

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Can’t figure it out

Although I’ve figured out what sites help most with sales, and what forums to post on, and what sponsorships work best, and I’ve documented all of this on my blog, there’s still one thing I cannot figure out. What prompts sales? For example, last month I sold many copies of INSECTLAND, DROP OUT, DREAM TRAVELER, and FROSTPROOF in the U.K. Yet, I’ve done almost no marketing for the U.K. since March. In the U.S., I sold many copies of all my books, but the two best sellers for the month were DROP OUT and DEGENERATES. This month, my U.K. sales for SILENT INVASION are huge, with a few sales of INSECTLAND, but that’s it. No other sales. In the U.S., I’m selling lots of my YA books but few of my adult. But last month, I sold mostly my adult books. It makes no sense. These are two different genres with two different age groups and audiences. Why the sudden boost in sales for a particular book? If I truly have a fan base, then the logic would be that my fans are gradually reading all of my books and that is why certain books sell a lot more than others on certain months. I’ve also learned from other forums that Amazon has an algorithm for their books and if your book somehow gets into the algorithm it gets more exposure, thus more sales for that certain book. And still other authors have said that it depends if Amazon starts randomly listing the book as a recommended read. I have also heard that liking a book means nothing except for the visual representation that people have bought it, and I still haven’t figured out if tags work that much when compared to the hundreds of thousands of books that are tagged with “thriller” for example. The Pandora’s Box of promotion and advertising still eludes me, but I’ll find it, I swear I’ll find it. Until then, I’ll keep plugging away at sponsorships, posting on sites, investigating rocket-sale promises, and falling for scams, until I find the yellow brick road to riches and fame. If/when I do, I’ll let you know.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Changing the world

So it finally happened, ebooks have surpassed regular books in sales for the first time ever! What does that mean to the 21st century writer? It means that the future of reading is here. It means that the stigma of reading ebooks has passed. It means a world-wide audience can download a book in seconds. It also means we will probably be seeing the end of traditional bookstores. Though it had been a lifelong dream of mine to see the cover of one of my books prominently displayed on Borders new release shelf, I’m gladly trading that dream for thousands of sales across the globe. Probably, the most significant drawback to ebooks is that an author cannot sign the copy. There won’t be any more book signing events or author appearances to sell books. There won’t be any more small author headshots on the back cover showing a proud and smiling writer. Authors as recognizable faces will most likely disappear and all writers will be known by name only. I for one am willing to forgo those ego boosts and live my life anonymously in exchange for more readers and a bigger audience. And speaking of a bigger audience, I’ve discovered a few things that may save time for authors trying to promote their books. Number one, though I once praised posting on threads that offer free promotion I now recommend against it. After many months of close observation and record keeping I discovered almost no relationship between posting and sales. Though it did make me feel good thinking I was doing something to get the word out, in actuality, it did almost nothing. I probably spent more than fifty hours posting summaries and taglines and can maybe actually account for five sales that are directly related to those efforts. That’s ten hours work posting per sale at a sixty cent royalty. You do the math. I have discovered that posting regularly on Author’s Den, Linkedin, Kindle Boards, Kindle Direct Publishing community, and Bookblogs has yielded the best results. Also, starting your own blog is a must. As you can see, this blog is nearing 190,000 hits, that’s a lot of exposure. All in all, ebooks are the future and I am excited to be a part of this new author revolution in publishing. It inspires me to write “outside the box” and create characters and storylines far from the mainstream without fear of what a publisher would think is WORTHY of being given a chance to show the public. It allows me to be more creative in ways that were never acceptable before. To think that without ebooks and the new acceptance of indie writers, nearly 12,000 people that have read my books would never have even gotten the chance if the big three publishing houses had their way. My advice is to write whatever kind of story you want, get a good editor, get a good cover artist, and publish away. Let the public decide if you’ve got talent, not some corporate tie-wearer who’s more worried about making his sales numbers than the story you’ve got to tell.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Experience the weird

Just wanted to announce that PULP is officially an ebook and available globally as of right now! I started the first draft of PULP back in 2002 after receiving a rejection notice for my other new ebook release FROSTPROOF. The agent liked FROSTPROOF but said he was looking for something a little weirder and more pulpy in style. Fueled by the adrenaline of rejection I started writing. I wanted to create a story that would keep people turning the page, not so much because of non-stop action, but more because of non-stop weirdness. I finished the book about a year later and sent it off to agents. I got several full-length requests and sent those. Funny thing, the agents all said the same thing. The story was great but a little too weird for the mainstream public. In response, I rewrote the novel making it even more bizarre and unpredictable. I figured, if its strength is in its uniqueness, then why not expound on that. To all my readers, I hope you enjoy PULP.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Worst ever!

My newest KND sponsorship for SILENT INVASION was a total disaster. As I predicted after I booked it, having a sponsorship for a middle grade novel the week schools let out was a HUGE mistake. The sponsorship yielded almost no increase over my usual daily sales. If I can offer any advice to promotional efforts for books is to make sure you take into account the world’s events when you schedule. I do have another sponsorship on Kindle Nation Daily for DROP OUT on June 29th. My logic for that date is because it is the Fourth of July weekend and many people will be on vacation at the beach, or needing something to read by the pool, or on a plane. DROP OUT is a literary adult novel so I’m chancing on an entirely different genre and audience. It will either be a big success or another waste of promotional money. I still recommend that all indie authors use sponsorship to get themselves out there. Even though I chalk this latest sponsorship as the worst ever, my book was still exposed to about 150,000 people through the KND site and their Facebook page and Twitter. And the link will be on the internet forever, so who knows what the future holds. I also just got an email from that they like the covers to my books so much that they placed them on display on their site. All unsolicited and free! Exposure! Exposure! Exposure! That’s what it’s all about.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Today's deal

The promotion for SILENT INVASION is going on right now. I haven't noticed too much of a bump in sales but the forums tell me that sales usually bump up later in the afternoon. I guess we'll see. I'm trying not to think about the cost of the promotion vs. the amount of sales and am spending the afternoon marketing PULP onto the various writers sites that I belong. I'm starting to think that the fact that this is the first week of school being out that the kids are not ready to sit inside and read. This date may have been a huge blunder for a middle grade book promotion. I should have done it later in the summer. I'll know within a few days and record the results.

Today’s Kindle Daily Deal -- Saturday, June 16 Don't miss Neil Ostroff''s SILENT INVASION

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Part strange

One of the strangest things about being a writer is people’s reaction when you tell them that you are. Most of the time there’s a slight admiration followed by the general expression that “yeah, everyone says they’re a writer”. But then when I tell them to Google my name and see what comes up, the admiration becomes real. Here’s what I’ve discovered about the nature of the arts and you can feel free to disagree with me, because like I say, these are only my biased opinions. Most people can paint a picture and most people can draw a picture and most people can play an instrument. I’ll also say that most people can write a story and most people can create a sculpture from clay. But when it comes to writing novels; that is an art form that most people can’t do. And it is not because of a lack of talent or differentiation of talent that separates these art forms. All require great skills. But unlike writing a novel: a song, painting, sculpture, short story, etc., can be composed, drawn, or molded in one day, or at least the majority of it if the artist is talented. There are numerous stories of hit music written in fifteen minutes or a painting that a great artist completed in one day. But with novel writing, I dare you to find anyone who can write a novel in one day. What separates novelist from all other arts is the time needed to create a great work. There are no fifteen minute hits, but there can be fifteen-year-in-the-making novels that hit it big. I think people are fascinated by novelists because of the commitment it takes to write several hundred pages that make coherent sense and tell a great story. The seclusion and isolation novelist must endure to create their masterpiece. It usually takes me about eight months to complete a book. That’s a lot of hours alone.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Future is now

As I watch the price of ereaders drop, I feel the excitement of a bright future for indie authors much the way musicians must have felt when the first Sony Walkman came into existence (I know I’m showing my age). Readers can now take thousands of books with them anywhere they go; on vacation, in a plane, in a car. And now with Nook and Kindle introducing the backlight, people can read in bed while their significant other sleeps with the lights out. Just a few short years ago, seeing someone reading off an electronic device seemed odd. Many people said they’d never buy an ereader because they liked the feel of paper and the texture of a book. Now, those same people are realizing the convenience of carrying copies of their favorites in a small, lightweight device. And with airlines charging fees for baggage, readers are fully realizing how much space and weight they’re saving buy not lugging around their written entertainment. Now, when I see someone reading from a Kindle or Nook, I don’t do a double take because it is an unusual sight. Now, when I see someone reading off an electronic device I smile, knowing my potential audience is growing. And speaking of audience, AFTER is still free until midnight tonight.
Right now, I’ve had close to four hundred downloads from three countries and sales of my other books are getting a little kick, too.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Becoming the character

I’m very happy with my new cover for PULP. I’ve contacted my editor and formatter, so the process is underway for my eighth novel to be published electronically. It’s been a long, twenty-year road to get these books complete but now that I’m nearing the end of my backlist of previously written novels, I can now concentrate on future projects, namely my latest, IMAGINATION. It’s been seven months of work and I’m about seventy percent complete. The book is written and the characters and plot are flushed out. Now begins the part I like best when writing a novel, creating the back story for the characters. This is when I get to create personalities and live vicariously through them. There are six main characters in IMAGINATION ranging from a dying old man, to an innocent man convicted of a hideous murder, to a downtrodden rabbi whose faith is renewed as he starts experiencing visions. I still have three chapters at the end of the book that need to be written, but I can only finish those after I’ve sorted out character details. I’m anticipating an early fall completion of the book and to have it on the market by the holiday season. After that, I will probably spend a little time tweaking my YA literary novel, WASTED and then decide if it is worthy of publishing. And after that… who knows? But I do have a manila folder stuffed with ideas for novels that I’ve been keeping for over two decades. Maybe I’ll break into it and see what’s there. Also, I’m running another promotion on Amazon right now. AFTER is free!!! That’s right, free! Until Sunday night. Here’s a chance to sample the type of novels I write for free! If you like it, please check out my other books. One more thing, I’m going to be adding a link on my blog to buy my books on devices other than Kindle. My exclusive contract has expired and it’s time to start marketing to all devices. I had almost 1000 sample downloads and more than 100 sales through Kobo and Nook before I went Kindle exclusive so it’s time to open up new floodgates. We’ll see what happens.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

New cover

Here's a picture of my new ebook edition of PULP. Pretty cool.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Back then

It was announced that has acquired Avalon books. While this move by Amazon proves that the digital publishing revolution is gaining strength, it hits me personally for two reasons. One, I think it will give new respect to indie writers who are publishing through Amazon, and two, I almost had a publishing deal with Avalon many years back. Well, kinda. It was for my novel, FROSTPROOF and it was a very exciting time. The internet had just begun to develop into the huge creature it has become, cell phones were still too expensive for most people to own, and the ereader hadn’t even been invented yet. Those days I used to hand address and sign each individual query letter. There were no mass emails. When a publisher or agent was interested in a book they would call you personally, at home, to speak with the author about the book. Back then, research required a trip to the library and most people still used typewriters. I remember the day I got that phone call from Avalon. I was out in my garden picking tomatoes when I heard the phone ring. Rather than run in and answer it, I let the answering machine (remember those) pick it up. Well, when I finally played the message of (I can’t even remember his name) at Avalon Publishing is very interested in reading the full manuscript of FROSTPROOF, I nearly exploded. Right then, I printed out a copy, replayed the message to get the address correct, and zipped off to the post office in my 1998 Nissan Sentra. Every day I checked the mailbox for a reply and would literally jump out of my skin when the telephone rang. Finally, it came. My self-addressed-stamped-envelope. I read the first paragraph about how much ( Mr. ?) enjoyed the book and how talented he thought I was. My hands started to shake. Then I read the next paragraph about how with a few changes and a bit of editing I’d have a real winner. I nearly screeched with joy. Then I read the third paragraph and my whole world collapsed. Although he loved the book he didn’t think he could champion it through all the hurdles it takes to publish a bestseller. I was crushed but elated at the same time. His reply held hope that someday my books would find readers and an audience. In that rejection there was encouragement and enthusiasm for my work. I never forgot that moment.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Big royalty check

Being a writer means experiencing dizzying highs and terrifying lows as a novel transforms into reality on the page. There are times when you believe that everything you’ve written is total crap and there are times when a character reveals something or does something that you hadn’t expected and you find yourself on this emotional high. This is also true when it comes to sales. Unfortunately, I’m obsessed with checking my sales numbers so my emotions can swing greatly from one day to the next. Today is a good day however, even if I end up having no sales. Why? Because I just received my largest royalty check yet from KDP. It isn’t just the amount that excites me (and it’s a pretty good chunk) it’s the fact that I’m only receiving about sixty-fives cents a book in royalties. That means that hundreds upon hundreds of people have purchased copies, which for me, is the reason I write. Sure, I’m happy for a big check, but I think for many artists and musicians having an audience for your work is as soul-satisfying as hitting it big. If I never write another word, I’ll always be happy in the knowledge that all the time I’ve spent alone writing has been worth it. I wish I could express how it feels to not only entertain readers with stories that I love telling, but for readers to think highly enough of my work to shell out their hard earned cash to retain a copy for themselves. Thanks to all my readers for making this possible. I do have two big sponsorship coming up this month, both on Kindle Nation Daily. One is for SILENT INVASION on June 16th, and the other is for DROP OUT on June 29th. I’m hoping the timing of these will coincide with the start of the nation’s vacation season and push my books to a new level of sales and an even bigger royalty check next quarter.

Friday, June 1, 2012

10,000 books!

As I write this, I’ve reached a milestone in my writing career. As of last count nearly 10,000 of my books have been downloaded. Not all were sales as some were free promotion giveaways, but enough of a percentage of them were purchased that it makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something. As I’ve always said, it’s all about exposure. The more people who read my books and talk about them, the more grassroots, word-of-mouth sales will grow. I just contacted my cover artist and formatter about turning PULP into an ebook. PULP is the last of my hardcover books to be converted into electronic format. I’ll now have eight novels for sale worldwide on all portable devices and ereaders. Wow! I must stress that none of this would be possible without Kindle Direct Publishing and Smashwords. And of course the internet and access to readers. As dismal as this month started out with sales, I’ve now seen a surge this last week. The four and five star reviews that I’ve gotten on and Goodreads are from real readers that I do not know, so my stories are having an effect on people. Sleeper hits are what Kindle Nation Daily called my books and a few are starting to stir. With the finalization of PULP, I can now concentrate on finishing IMAGINATION. Nearly all my novels that have been tucked away in my desk drawer while under representation by my former agent will now see new life and find new readers thanks to the electronic revolution. Many writers I’ve talked to who are under traditional publisher’s contracts fear what the new wave of indie publishing will do to their sales, especially when they have to distribute the royalties among so many players while also competing for advertising dollars. I wholly embrace the freedom of the entrepreneur author. I can write what I want, design the cover the way I want, and sell the book at the price I want, all while being able to reach a global audience of billions. I’ve sold books in almost every state in America, all throughout the UK, and even sold a few titles in France and Italy. Not too shabby. Now, if I could only add one more zero to that 10,000 mark, it would really make my year.