Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Personal Update

Just a quick update to keep my followers in the cerebral loop. I'm working on a new book that is a stand-alone story but also book #2 in the End Time Series. It is based on an idea I've had and kept in the vault for years. The subject-- what lies after the end of existence.

As I've mentioned before the going is slow with this one due to the near perfect stretch of summer weather and a new world of opportunities that have opened. The writer in me says sit still and stay put in front of that computer, but the human in me says get out and enjoy life. It's a constant battle that feels like an incessant, nagging voice in my ear.

Though I have done almost no marketing or promotion for the last three months my books are still selling, albeit at a much slower rate. My KU pages are pretty substantial so I know my books are being read, so that's a good thing. But what continues to amaze me is the number of hits that this blog still receives on a daily basis. I truly appreciate the interest and vow to keep up with posts and information. Last month this blog was hit more than 35,000 times, averaging 1,200-2,500 hits per day. All I can say is... wow! And... thank you!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Enjoy life!

Progress with my new novel is going slower than I anticipated. It’s hard to focus on storytelling during these long, lazy summer days. That’s okay… I feel content. It wasn’t always this way. Two decades ago, when I decided to focus my life energies on making it as a novelist, a slow-down like this would have driven me to the asylum. Thinking back, boy was I hungry to make it. Hour after hour, day after day, year after year… rain, snow, or sunshine, I would be in front of my computer tapping away at the keys like a woodpecker against a concrete tree. Stories were born and novels written. In my mind, the sacrifice was completely worth it.

The excitement of being a committed writer; the dizzying highs and terrifying lows, came with the territory. Ten years into the process, I acquired a top NY agent with a top literary agency and I thought I had made it (even contemplated quitting my day job to focus on my books). What a wonderful and exciting time in my career.

It was also around this era that the writing community got wind of Kindle’s new, so-called ereader. Some were curious how this would affect writers, others like me were terrified that the book world would collapse and there would be no hope at making a living writing books. My agent was also worried as he witnessed ebook sales soar and literary agencies and publishing houses begin to close. The days of agents and publishers nurturing new authors were becoming extinct. Unfortunately, that meant lightening their client lists.

I was devastated when I got the email and cancelled contract that my agent sent and that he and I were parting ways. My world came crashing down.  I’d spent more than a third of my life in pursuit of a goal/dream that had now been shattered. I’ll admit, I thought about giving up the craft entirely.

Weeks passed.  Not writing left me with an enormous amount of free time and boredom caused me to delve into the world of indie publishing. At the time, I had eight completed manuscripts sitting in a drawer so I figured I had nothing to lose. Half-heartedly, I paid a formatter and cover artist to get one of my sci-fi books, AFTER in shape for Amazon’s distribution. The field of ebooks was millions smaller at the time and I truly believed that no one would be interested in electronic books. Readers want the feel of paper and weight in their hands. For several days, I checked the sales stats about once an hour for naught. Then it happened.

I got a sale! Someone out there in the world had bought a copy of AFTER. I was elated, jubilant, over-the-top excited. I had sold a book! I WAS A PAID AUTHOR! Everything changed after that! Realizing that my time and opportunity at this new market was limited, and that soon everyone in America was going to write and publish a book, I spent every second of my free time learning social media, the new market, the best sites to promote, networking, and getting my books out there. Six months into it, I sold my first book overseas. A month after that, I hit #1 in my genre for my book DROP OUT. Sales continued to increase the more effort I put into the process. Weeks were spent plastered in front of my computer screen. Seasons came and went, and then years. My books sold all over the world. Four hit #1 in there genres and several have broken the Amazon top 100 in the paid store. I would label that a success.

So, why air my emotional closet after I have stated that my writing has slowed? Because for the first time decades I am comfortable with the thought of not writing or marketing today. I am okay with taking a walk by a glistening lake and enjoying the experience of a beautiful summer day without thinking that if I don’t write or market my work my career will come crashing down. It won’t. To paraphrase a line from my last published novel the #1 Amazon best seller, AS IT IS IN HEAVEN, “The ultimate purpose and the reason for autonomous life is to enjoy.” And to that I guilt-freely say, I will!

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Discouraged… nothing less

There have been a lot of changes to Amazon and how it sells books since I broke from my agent and started on this solo indie adventure.  A few years ago, the process of self-publishing an ebook was much simpler. You wrote a manuscript, edited, formatted, designed a cover, uploaded the file, and poof… it was available for sale all over the world. If the story you wrote was any good you just might have sold a bunch of copies. If you were hard-working and totally devoted to your craft, you just may have eked out a little living from your endeavors. But for how long did it last? Not long at all.

In a competitive market, Amazon had to adapt quickly to keep its authors and new source of generous royalty income from being eaten up by other publishing sites. How did they do this? By introducing Amazon Prime. Authors had to pledge their allegiance to Amazon exclusively if they wanted the numerous benefits offered by this service. Of which I did, and I’m not complaining one bit.

However, as in all industries there are those unscrupulous individuals who uncover flaws in the system and will extract as much from it as they can before being caught. I’m talking about the Kindle Unlimited program where authors get paid by the number of pages read. I am also a participant in this program and highly recommend it as a means for readers to discover new authors at no cost to the readers. Sounds like a great idea until you realize that a small group of so-called authors can produce vast amounts of nonsense books with massive page counts only to have their friends download them and then the “author” gets paid for the pages.

So, why do I care when I’m not abusing the system? Because these people are siphoning the funds that are supposed to go to legitimate authors who’ve written legitimate books. Where I once believed the KU program was a beautiful gateway bypassing the traditional publishers and their arrogance, I now see it as a means to get hucksters rich. I will stay in the program (of course) because I want my books available to the masses; I just hope a better lending system with better safeguards will be implemented before the KU author fund runs dry.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Lots of visitors!

Wow… it’s been a while since I checked the visitor stats on this blog and I must say I am impressed at the amount of hits I have been receiving. Last month, this blog received more than 25,000 hits. That’s more than some book sites that sell advertising. Yesterday alone 1,350 people clicked on and checked it out. I sincerely appreciate the interest.

I must apologize for not keeping up with recent posts as much as I wish I could. Life was simpler when I first started this blog five years ago and I made it a point to post something about writing every other day. Excitement was always in the air. The ebook craze was in its infancy and the market new and ripe for the picking. I realized the potential for a global audience, left my prominent NY agent, and spent months refining my manuscripts. I hired professional cover artists, editors, and formatters to tweak everything. And when I finally released them onto the world through Amazon and a few other outlets, it became an amazing journey to the #1 best seller spot that I chronicled obsessively.

Relating the experience and excitement of seeing four of my books rise in the ranks to hit the #1 spot in their genres was the most gratifying time in my life. Almost daily, something wonderful occurred and I would relate it on my blog. My entire writer’s journey is chronicled here from day 1.

Fast forward to the present. My books still sell at a good clip compared to the vast majority of indie writers struggling to get noticed but the market has become saturated and readers have become wary of the infinite number of books and unknown authors flooding the virtual shelves. It’s not easy anymore to snag a promotional spot on the big websites and the number of minor (money-sifting-from-desperate-author) sites offering services is astronomical. There are book review services, marketing services, Facebook friend services, Twitter friend services, scams… you name it. It’s just not as wondrous to be an author as it was when the field was bright and new and raw talent got you a loyal following and thousands of book sales.

I wish I could post every day what is happening in my writing career but the honest truth is that the pure art of writing itself is just not that exciting. The romantic notion of a genius creating in a solitary room just doesn’t make for much interesting banter. Blogging about my latest story only goes so far. True, I am writing a new novel and there will be times that exciting things and happenings will lead me to post and I will let my followers know when they do. In the meantime, keep checking in. I feel excitement brewing in the cosmos.