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Dissolution of Peace, out now on Nook!

You can get the ePub version of Dissolution of Peace over at Barnes and Noble.com.  It retails for the same price as the Kindle version at $1.99.

Head over to this page and check it out.  I think they are still building the page to include descriptions ect.  But feel free to leave a review if you have already read it.  If it does well on Nook, I’ll start releasing all my titles on Nook on release day.  Happy reading.

Don’t forget the Paperback is also available at Amazon.com for $7.99.  That is a Trade Paperback at mass market price!

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Validation

valid-stampDeep down I think we all seek some type of validation.  It could be with a loved one, in our careers, and in our friendship.  It can also be with parking. We all need it.  I have a confession though, I self doubt a lot.  That is to say that I am constantly needing validation that my choices are the right ones.  This is true of my writing career as well.

But I think writers are a group that need a special type of validation.  There are a lot of people out there that want to be writers.  There are even a lot of people out there who say they are writers and really don’t know what they mean when they say that.  But deep down we writers want to be validated as authors. Unfortunately validation doesn’t always come.

So at what point are you valid in claiming you are an author.  Well, that is a bar that we set for ourselves.  Some set the bar really high, claiming they can only be an author when they get that first professional sale.  Some claim that they can be called an author simply because they say they are.

But what really validates the claim to that title of author?  Well for me it is the recognition of my peers, my readers, and friends.

Last year I felt really good when I took 2nd place in the science fiction and fantasy short story category of the  2011 Preditors and Editors readers poll for “Death Watch”.  I felt even better at all the nice comments I received. I even felt validated as a short story author.  The sale of my first two short stories in a matter of months helped a lot, but being recognized in that poll was special to me.

But what I really wanted to do was sell novels.  So in 2012, I didn’t work on many short story projects.  I put my work towards publishing my first novel, and I did it.  My goal was to get a lot of new readers, and I did that.  My goal was to get a lot of reviews and praise, but that has not really happened.  I’ve had 8 reviews on Amazon US and 2 on UK.  Don’t get me wrong, I am very pleased with those reviews.  But one of my roll models, the person that inspired me to get Dissolution of Peace out, seemed to get a lot of reviews very quickly.  Even a lot of editorial reviews (of which I’ve only had two).  It is my opinion that he made a big splash in the Horror scene, while I seem to have made only a slight ripple (like a pebble dropped into the ocean) in the Sci-Fi scene.

So, I started to question the validity of my claim to be a novelist.  Some of my role models in the independent scene, including the person above, have not even shared (to my knowledge) the work I have done. I think perhaps I expected too much from those I thought would return the favor.  But the point is that I began to question if I was any good at what I was setting out to do.  This is that self doubt I was talking about.

The problem not feeling validated, is that you tend to slump.  And I did a significant slump.  But then the readers poll came around again.  I was nominated for best Science Fiction and Fantasy novel.  There were also 85 other novels nominated.  In the end I took another top ten finish, coming in 5th for the 2012 poll.

There were some great comments in there too. I take great pride in how much people love my work and my characters.  I was ecstatic to see some of these things, they mean a lot to me.

I think the important thing that this post should point out.  If you are a reader, like I am, you need to set out to review ALL the books you read but especially the ones you enjoyed.  You need to make sure to share that with everyone.  Because if you want to see writers continue to write, they need to feel validated.  And for many of us, your reviews, purchases, and kind comments validates our purpose.  I think this is more important than a professional sale, and or even a large book deal, though those all help.  After all, it isn’t about who publishes what we write, but about who enjoys what we write.

So to those who continue to buy my books, vote for my books, comment on my books, review my books, and share my stories: I thank you.  You fuel my my writing career and make it that much more likely that I will someday reach all my writing goals.

As for the parking, I think I will just pay for it.  That is a validation that can be impossible to get.

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Updates: December 2012

I haven’t done one of these updates posts in a long time, and I have some things to tell you all.

Dissolution of Peace

Dissolution of Peace CoverDissolution of Peace is doing okay will the sales.  The second two free eBook promotions did not do nearly as well as the first one did.  I think that in order to have continued success with the free promotions, I need to widen my advertising audience.  But in terms of sales it is doing okay.  Getting reviews is going slower than I thought I would.  But I have six on Amazon US and they are all 4 and 5 star reviews.  So I am more that pleased to wait if they remain so positive.  I’ve been toying with an idea to reward honest reviews on Amazon.com with some type of giveaway.  But that feels awfully closed to “buying” a review and I don’t know that I am comfortable with that closeness.  So I think for now I will stick with waiting it out.  If you haven’t got your copy, or left a review, please visit this link.  If you have thought of borrowing Dissolution of Peace via the Kindle lending library, it will only be available until January 5th.  After that, I plan to release Dissolution of Peace on Barnes and Noble for the Nook.

I have been nominated for the Preditors and Editors Readers Poll.  I was nominated last year and took second place for Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Short story with my short story “Death Watch“.  This year Dissolution of Peace was nominated for best Science Fiction and Fantasy Novel.  It is currently in second place and could really use your vote.  You can vote for Dissolution of Peace by clicking this link.  Make sure you check your email for the confirmation email and click the confirmation link it includes.  Otherwise your vote won’t count.  The Polls close January 15th, so vote right away.

Daddy is Tired

Daddy_is_Tired_CoverYou have all heard me talk about my son’s picture book, Daddy is Tired.  Sales have slowed down on that tremendously and he could really use your support.  We are putting all the money in his College Savings account.  You can go get your copy, or leave a review,  by clicking here.

His book is also in the Preditors and Editors Reader Poll under the Children’s Section.  So a vote for him would be great too.  Since you can vote once per category you can vote for both of us.

Plasma Frequency

Cover PreviewBefore I started writing this blog, I accepted the last of the stories for Issue 4.  We have brought on a great Assistant Editor, Molly Moss, and she is doing a remarkable job easing the pressure on me to run this magazine.  There will be a lot of great talent in Issue 4.  And if you haven’t ready our three issues from this year, you can read them free by visiting the website.

Also, with Duotrope going to paid we are considering the idea of adding our own response time statistics to our website.  This way those that can’t afford, or don’t feel Duotrope is right in charging, can still see the same information.  In fact, our statistics will be 100% accurate because they will include 100% of our submissions.  I think it is just one more way our magazine will demonstrate that we are very much pro-author.

This is just one of many big plans we have an Plasma Frequency and at Plasma Spyglass.

Plasma Frequency is also honored that some of our content has been nominated for the Preditors and Editors Readers Poll.  Lindsey Duncan’s “Mythocraft” from Issue 2 is nominated in the Science Fiction and Fantasy short Story category.  And Tais Teng’s stunning cover art work for Issue 1 is nominated under the Magazine Cover Artwork section.  Again, take a moment to go vote for those by clicking the links.

This Year is Summary

As far as writing goes, this looks like a slow year.  I only have one short story published (you can read “Miles From the Future” here) and only two written.  But I did publish my first novel this year and put in a lot of work to get Cinco’s book out this year.  So in terms of words published, I did much better this year as apposed to 2011.  And when you factor in starting and running a publishing company, I’m actually proud of what has been done this year.  I can only hope for continued success in 2013.

Upcoming Projects for 2013

I am currently in progress on a Novel.  It is not the sequel to Dissolution of Peace (I can hear many of you groaning on that one).  It has a tentative title and a very rough release date of March/April 2013.  I plan to announce an official release date when I have the cover art done.  Perhaps around February 2013.  So look for that coming soon.

The yet untitled sequel for Dissolution of Peace is the next project in my “to-write” list.  I can’t give you a release date for sure, but I sincerely hope to have it done before the end of 2013.  Knowing how hard it is to wait for a sequel, I am trying my best to get it to you as quickly as possible.  So many people have begged me to give them a hint as to what happens next.  I really hadn’t expected there to be so much love for the characters in this book.  By far the number most comments on the novel have been about the attachment readers feel to the main characters.  I have a very deep bond with these characters as well.  They are the first characters I have ever created with any seriousness of being published.  So I really have to get back to telling their story.

Yesterday, a third idea hit me.  I’m not sure if it will be a short story or a Novel.  The idea sparked up from an odd dream.  It will also be very much character driven.  But it is still in the infancy stages and may not be ready well into 2014.  But as I play with the idea, we will see where it leads me.

Summary

Well, 2012 has been a crazy year.  I went from brand new short story writer to a novelist, and publisher, in a year.  I’ve discovered that people really do enjoy the style I bring to the pages, and I expect to gain a lot of new fans in 2013.  Of course, I have to thank all my fans that have been following me since “Death Watch” and all those that have joined me along the way.  I write for my readers, and I am always grateful I have readers.

And because I couldn’t resist ending this with a slight cliche; See you all next year.

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Do KDP Select Free Promotions Work?

Yesterday I did my first KDP Free Promotion.  For those that don’t know, Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) has an option to sign up for KDP Select.  This is a 90 day period where you allow Amazon (and by default Kindle) to be the only electronic form of your book sold.  Some people balk at the exclusiveness this implies.  But there are some pluses.  You get to be part of the Kindle Prime Lending Library. This means that people can borrow your book for free and in return you get a part of the collective “pot” of money.  I’ve not had any borrows yet.  Some authors have told me that you get more borrows for higher priced books, since prime users can only borrow one book per month.  I don’t know about that.

The other thing you get to do is pick five days per 90 day period to make your book free.  You don’t have to do that.  You don’t even have to pick the days when you publish your book.  You can go back and set up your days when you want.  You can do all five together or pick and choose a few days spread out.  The choice is entirely up to you.

As you probably saw in yesterday’s post, I made Dissolution of Peace free in honor of Veterans day in the United States.  It was free on all Amazon sites globally.  I did this for two reasons.  First, I wanted to see how well this KDP Free Promotions thing would work.  Second, I have a special place in my heart for those that serve in the armed forces.  It may even be why I enjoy writing military fiction.  So I decided to honor those people in a way that was important to me.

The real question is, do promotions like this work?

Success is truly something only you can decide.  But, I will show you what it did for me in just the one day since the promotion.  You can decide from there if it could be successful for you.

I would also like to point out that I did not market my free book on anything other then this blog, my Twitter, and Facebook.  I didn’t announce it on one the the many free eBook blogs.  I just spread the word myself.

Getting Books in the Hands of Readers

The point in writing a book is to have it read.  I’ve stressed that making money is not my goal in writing.  My goal is to get readers and maybe get a few fans who want to read anything I write.  So did the promotion get my book in the hands of readers.  With out a doubt it is a huge success in that fashion.

In Amazon US, I had about 19 times more downloads yesterday then I have had since my book was released.  Nineteen times more readers in one day then in the four weeks since my book was released.

In Amazon UK, I had 88 times more downloads yesterday then I have had since my book was released.  The UK was phenomenal in this free promotion.  I’ll get to more on that soon.

In Amazon Germany, I had 7 times more downloads yesterday then in the four weeks since it was released.

I even had my first download in Italy.

In comparison to other promotions I have done, this was by far the most successful.  My own eBook giveaways resulted in only around 10 free eBooks being given away.  This includes those sent to reviewers.  But if I wanted to get more readers, this was certainly a great way to do it.  They may not read it right away, I am sure there are people who just won’t pass up free, but there a whole lot more people with copies of my book now.  This means there are a lot more people in the pool to write reviews, tell their friends, and look for future titles I release.

Creating Awareness of my Book

This is a really hard thing to do.  Getting your book noticed by potential buyers is very hard for any author, especially the indie author.  You are fighting an up hill battle with major authors, major publishers, and the rest of the indie market.  It is not easy to be noticed.

One way to get noticed is on Amazon’s Best Seller Lists.  The thing that always frustrated me about many “help” sites that talk about these best seller lists don’t let you know the secrets to getting on the lists.  The truth is the secret is simply getting sales.  But Amazon does one great thing here.  The Best Seller Lists of the Top 100 eBooks sold is listed right next to the Top 100 Free eBooks.  Number 5 in sales is right next to number 5 in free.

This means that when someone is looking for the best sellers on science fiction ebooks, they are also seeing the best sellers in free science fiction ebooks.  You still have to get the downloads to get on the list, but you can get a lot of benefit once you get on the list.  If nothing more than getting the cover of your book seen by more eyes.

I mentioned how great the UK was in this free promotion.  The first time I checked my Amazon UK page yesterday was at 10:16 in the morning.  My book had only been free for ten hours, which is a fair amount of time, especially considering the time difference.  But at that point I was #48 on the Top 100 Free Science Fiction eBooks.  And by the end of the promotion I was #19.  In that time I had been on the same page as H. P. Lovecraft, Jules Vern, Philip K. Dick, Isaac Asimov, and more.  I was even next to George R.R. Martin at one point.  That is some good company to hang out with, even on a virtual level.

UK Best Sellers of Science Fiction on 11/12/2012

In the US, it was a slower start.  This, in part, has to do with two factors.  First, the US site has a much larger pool of shoppers.  They include India, and many other places that don’t have their own sites.  But, KDP free events also start at 12:01 am Pacific time.  Right when most of the US is still asleep.  But by 12:45 pm, twelve hours into the the promotion, I was on the top 100 list at number 61.  And by the time it was over, I had made it to 28.  So while the UK really came through on the Best Seller’s list, the US still put me along side the great names of Science Fiction past and present.

 

US Best Sellers of Science Fiction on 11/12/2012

I would say that overall that is a successful way of gaining exposure to my book.  I don’t know how many people browse the Top Sellers list.  But I do know that I often look for books online this way.  So overall even if I didn’t get downloads, people saw my book cover.  And book covers are the brand image of books.  Like all brands, the more the image is seen the more it becomes known and in some cases trusted.

You might be wondering where my book ranked at in the over all ranking for Free eBooks.  In the US it was #779 and in the UK it was #425.  Not bad considering how many thousands, probably millions, of books are on Amazon.

Word of Mouth

Word of mouth advertising is probably some of the best.  People often choose books based on the recommendations of friends and family.  While I doubt anyone recommended my book the same day they downloaded it.  I got far more downloads then I have Facebook, Twitter, and Blog followers.  This means people had to hear about it from other people.  So people were at least mentioning my book.  I also noticed that many people were downloading my book in the US before it broke on to the top 100 list.  So they had to find it some other way.

But this huge pool of new readers who downloaded my book will contribute to the word of mouth advertising that will continue to increase traffic to my book.  And will hopefully increase my sales volume.

Reviews

I don’t know if this will increase my reviews.  Before the promotion I had two Amazon reviews, and one Amazon UK review.  But, the increased reader pool also means an increased reviewer pool.  So that has to cause a higher chance of being reviewed. But only time will tell on this.

Increased Sales

Again, only time will tell on this.  But my point has never been to get money.  Some people see the free book giveaway as nothing but lost revenue.  But to date, nothing has got Dissolution of Peace in the hands of more readers than the Amazon free promotion.  I’ve never thought of writing as a way to make money.  For me it is has been about readers, and maybe making enough money to cover the costs associated with publishing it.  Would I complain if my book starts flying off the shelves?  Of course not.  That is the goal of most writers, but not for the sake of money but for the sake of the volume of readers.

From what I have heard from others, the sales will increase but that takes time.

Summary

I can’t really see it any other way.  KDP has hit a home run with the idea of allowing authors five days to make the book free.  And if you use those days through out your 90 day period as a promotional tool, you can really gather a lot of new readers.  And many readers who might not have otherwise picked up your book.  I’ll likely do another two or three of these free promotional things in the next few months.  I see nothing but success here.  And if I enjoyed this much success with limited announcement outlets, imagine if I branched out from my circle of followers.

Of course, many people are turned off be the exclusiveness of KDP Select.  They feel like they are excluding a market of readers that use other eReaders.  Personally I have had little request for ePub format.  But, 90 days is a relatively short time.  If you don’t like it, you don’t have to renew it.  Personally I think it is worth a try.

 

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Second Review of Dissolution of Peace

“I left my soft chair and became a love-crossed, beautiful captain of a starship”

My Second book review is up.  That is two in two days!  This one comes from SciFi Book Review.   Please take a moment to follow Sheron, the reviewer, on Twitter and Facebook by clicking those links.  And of course, please leave a positive comment on the review.
SciFi Book Review’s post on Dissolution of Peace

Dissolution of Peace is available on Kindle and in Paperback on Amazon.com

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Spreading the Word

So I have been trying to sell copies of Dissolution of Peace now for almost two weeks.  And I am discovering a few things that I didn’t expect to discover along the way.  I know I have touched on some of this before when I wrote “Is Anybody Out There?” but that was more about making a plan for marketing.  This is more about what I am learning that may surprise some of you.

I’ll go ahead and start with common questions about marketing books and give you my answer two weeks in.

Do giveaways work?

The short answer is that I don’t know yet.  I’ve done a giveaway on Goodreads for Daddy is Tired.  I did it at the recommendation of another who told me it really worked for him.  So far, I’ve not seen any boost in sales.  In fact I think I’ve sold one copy total since that give away ended at the end of September.  So I am not sure how it “works” but it didn’t for a children’s picture book.

I’m running two giveaways for Dissolution of Peace.  One ends at the end of October, the other ends at the end of November.  Surprisingly the one on Goodreads seems to be getting a lot less reaction than the one on my Facebook page.  There is one advantage to the Facebook Page give away.  Both my Twitter and Facebook followers have gone up significantly.  Though that hasn’t translated into sales.  We will see what happens come the end of the giveaways.

I did two other giveaways.  I gave away fifteen free copies of Dissolution of Peace for Kindle on Twitter, of which only one was ever claimed.  I did the same on Facebook, giving away ten copies.  Two were claimed.  Not exactly a very strong presence there.  My hope was to get twenty-five copies of my book out there and hopefully get ten reviews on Amazon and/or Goodreads.  I’ve not had any reviews (from the giveaway) on either one.

Based on these numbers, you might think that giveaways don’t work.  To be honest no one has ever really told me how they work to get sales.  They just tell me it works.  So Perhaps by the end of the year I will see an increase in sales.  The giveaways don’t cost me anything.  The eBooks are free.  And the signed paperbacks will cost me less than $20 when I factor in the shipping charges.  So when you consider how little it costs, it is worth a shot.  But if you try something, like my eBook social media give away, and it doesn’t work.  Don’t repeat failure.  Even if it cost you nothing monetarily, it will cost you your time.

The good thing about Raffle Copter (which I am using to give away one signed paperback) and Goodreads giveaways, is that it doesn’t cost you but a few minutes of time.  And, like I said, I am getting new followers as result.  That may be of significant value later.

Does Posting to Facebook or Twitter work?

I suppose this is the new form of word of mouth.  Word of mouth advertising does work.  But only if it is done correctly.  But I will clue you in on some surprises I learned.

First, don’t count on people to share it.  All the people I thought were certain to share it, some who were even instrumental in helping create it, have not shared it once.  Many of these people are fellow authors, whom I have promoted heavily myself.  Of course, I didn’t promote them expecting them to do the same.  Though I did kind of hope they might.  Most of them I promoted well before my novel came out.  There are some I have even promoted their business (they are not authors) and they haven’t shared my book either.

But, there is an upside to this.  I have had complete strangers share my book, mostly on Twitter.  These are people who recently jumped on and followed me.  In fact, one person who follows me retweeted it and then five or six people who don’t follow me also retweeted it.  Facebook on the other hand has been all shares from family or friends.  I appreciate everyone who shares it, and I try to help them out when I can.  But remember, just because you help someone else out, don’t expect it in return.  The deal here is that you should share what you want and other will share what they want.  Even though it is disappointing when family and friends don’t.

Facebook groups are another way of spreading the word.  Two things to remember.  First, don’t break the groups rules.  Your post will just get deleted.  Two, don’t expect much from it.  I belong to several writing Facebook groups.  The problem is, all of them are so flooded with self promotional posts, that mine rarely stay within a readable number of posts for more than an hour.  Also, I’m not sure how many people are actually reading what others post there, versus just posting themselves.  Some even seem to post every hour or so.  Which is bullshit if you ask me.  They are spamming the feeds just to keep their book on top.  I’ll get more on spamming later.

Okay, I’ll talk about spamming now.  If all you post on Twitter or Facebook is your novel.  You won’t get anywhere.  It doesn’t take long before people tune you out and/or unfollow you.  Personally I only post about my book a few times a day.  And lately it has been cut back to just once.  I post about other topics: Jokes only I think are funny, blog posts that helped me, Plasma Frequency, the NHL lockout, and more.  I also comment on other people’s posts, try to answer comments on mine, reply to tweets, and retweet things that I liked.  All of these things make me a human being.  Not a constantly tweeting about my book robot.  I think that is equally important as getting the word out about your books.  After all, if you lose followers, what is the point of tweeting to an empty room.

Think of it this way.  If every time one of your coworkers, friends, or even family members saw you, all you said was “Buy my book.  It is on Amazon.com and it is great.”  How long before you wouldn’t see them again?  Of course you will tell your friends about your book, but I am sure you talk about other things.  The same should be the case on Facebook or Twitter.  Be a real person and you might wind up with more results and more help for your followers.

What to you thing about Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising?

First of all, PPC advertising works on a the principle that a site puts up an advertisement and when someone clicks on it you pay a per click fee.  Many places let you bid on the per click rate.  Lower bids mean you are not shown as often as larger bids.  You can usually choose who you target and even set up limits per month.

Right now I am using Goodreads.  From all the research I have done, Goodreads is supposed to be better at targeting readers than Facebook or Google PPC ads.  I have three ads.  One for the Paperback targeting US readers of Science Fiction 16 or older.  One for the Kindle Version targeting US readers of eBooks and Science Fiction 16 or older.  Last, I have a Paperback/Kindle ad targeting UK readers of science fiction 16 or older.  All three ads are in one campaign.  I pay 20 cents a click  for one, the other two I pay 10 cents per click.  I started the ad on the 16th in the evening.  So in about four days I have had 3,500 views.  Views just mean it came up on the page, it doesn’t mean anyone actually saw it.  Of all those views I have had two (2) clicks, both in the UK.  And both UK clicks resulted in zero new UK sales.

The good news is you can change your ads any way you want until you find one that gets you more clicks.  I recommend you send the clicks to Amazon or Barnes and Noble for sales.  This is because it eliminates extra steps to get your book sold.  The real trick if making an ad that really catches readers attentions.  Though part of this falls on Goodreads.  Frankly they put the ads in a terrible spot.  That even on my large screen, I have to scroll down to see them.

The bad news is, I dumped $90 into this PPC campaign based on recommendations from others that Goodreads PPC ads really jump started their book sales for the first 30 days.  At this rate, it will take me a long time to burn up $90.  So learn from my mistake and start with a smaller number.  Then once you find an ad that gets you a lot of clicks, you can increase.  Another tip:  Keep in mind how much you make in profit on each sale.  If you make $0.30 per eBook sale and you bid $0.30 cents per click.  Someone would have to buy on every click just to break even.  $0.10 is the lowest you can bid on good reads.  So if you book is less than $1.99 you’re expecting a lot for the ad.

Here is the thing, I think PPC can work.  But you have to stay on top of it.  You have to find an ad that works, and that means watching the numbers and changing the ad until you get clicks.  And then hopefully clicks will turn into sales.

What about website advertising?

I don’t know.  I haven’t tried it yet.  I contacted one site that had a really good deal with a few questions.  That was a week ago and they never answered me.  So I’ll continue to look around.  The think on website advertising is you want to find a site that attracts readers of your genre.

What about print/magazine advertising?

Although I have not tried it.  I know this works.  If you put your book in a fiction magazine for your genre you will get the word out there about your book.  The readership numbers matter.  This is why if you want to advertise in some of the bigger science fiction magazines, you will pay a lot for it.  Smaller presses charge less, but you get less readers.

Book Reviews / Author Interviews?

I’m in the process of getting a few book reviews.  But finding sites to do it is a lot harder than I ever thought.  Many have “closed” because of overload.  Many more have lengthy lead times.  One who has accepted my book has already told me it could be 8-12 weeks.  Another is reading it now, and two more have put me on “the list”.  But these book review sites have readers.  I don’t agree with paying for a review.  The most I am willing to do is provide a free book.

Author Interviews.  I have not done any of these yet.  And it seems that the only places I have found that do them, charge for them.  So I don’t know.

It the end, blog reviews and author interviews are another form of word of mouth.  Word of mouth works, it is proven in multiple industries.

Amazon or Goodreads reviews.  The thing with these is to be prepared to have to beg for them.  Just getting people to like the book or add it to a shelf has been nearly impossible.  Then asking people to do the Tags thing on Amazon has been impossible.  Over all it has been a nightmare.  But the truth is, people don’t buy things on Amazon that haven’t been reviewed.  And the more reviews you can get the better people will feel about paying for your book.  But it takes time.  People have to read your book.  And after they read the book they have to feel the need to go back to Amazon (or Goodreads) and rate it.  Many readers aren’t that motivated to do all that.  If they are active on Goodreads, that site does a good job of integrating at least a star rating into the experience of the reading progress.  But there is nothing to encourage someone to go to Amazon.com and review your item.  The encouragement could be that the book was so good they have to say something or it could be it was so bad they had to say something.  More often they have to be encouraged by someone to do it.  That someone being you.

So does marketing work?

Many authors will tell you that they have seen no benefit in marketing.  This is because, like me, they have a preconceived notion that buying an ad automatically equals sales.  Or that all their friends and family will share their book.  Or that giving a few books away will mean that everyone who didn’t win will go buy it.  The truth is far less.  Advertising takes a tone of work and it takes a lot of time before it really takes off.  The truth is most of us are not marketing geniuses and advertising becomes a trial and error.  And since books vary as much as their authors, it is also possible that what you try won’t work for you but will work for me.

The best thing to do is to keep at it.  Spend just a little money until you know what works.  Invest your money wisely.  As I learn more about what works for me, I’ll share it with you all.

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Dissolution of Peace is on Sale Now!

As of this morning Amazon.com has officially begun selling Dissolution of Peace!  It is one week early, but I am over joyed to see all this hard work finally amount to something. 

I hope people enjoy the book and spread the word about it.  I’m still offering signed paperbacks for only $5.99 for the next week.  You can get that from the BUY BOOKS tab at the top of my blog.

Here are the Amazon.com Links:

Paperback: http://www.amazon.com/dp/0615706851/
Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009N3BFIG

Don’t forget to add it to your shelves on Goodreads!

Here is the trailer again, just to get you a psyched up as I am.

 [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MwfbQX7f36Q]

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Dissolution of Peace – Updates, Pre-Order, Giveaways, and more

As Dissolution of Peace gets closer and closer to being released, I find myself with an odd mixture of pride, fear, and anticipation.  But all the hard work is worth something in the end.  As I see the finished project coming along, I can’t help but be happy to see so much work coming together for this project.

UPDATES

I wrote my acknowledgements section the other day.  It is certainly an optional part of a novel.  I’ve read plenty of novels that don’t have one.  But with this being by first novel, I had to write one.  I always enjoy reading other authors’ acknowledgements, and it only felt right that I put one in.  It came from my heart, so hopefully it doesn’t come across as too much.  Either way, I am happy to thank those people that helped me get this book together.

I dedicated the book to my three boys.  They are a huge part of why I followed this dream all the way to the end.  I already know who I’ll be dedicating my second novel to.

The Official Book Trailer is getting a lot more views than I expected, considering how little I have shared it.  So I assume that must mean a few of you have shared it.  Thank you.  So far those who have talked to me about it, like it.  Please make sure to hit that thumbs up button and leave a comment if you enjoyed it.

PRE-ORDER

The good news is that you don’t have to wait until October 16th to order your copy of Dissolution of Peace.  You can pre-order online right now.   Best of all you will save 25-50% off the list price.  But, this will only last during the pre-sale period.  I’ll also be signing all pre-order copies of my book.  You will see I have added a “Buy” tab to this site.  This will be a place to buy copies of my book.  If you don’t follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you should.  I’ll be sharing discount codes with my followers there through out the pre-sale period.  You can order here: LINK

GIVEAWAYS

I also have two giveaways starting:

First, if you visit my Facebook Page, and click on the giveaway icon (see the picture right).  You can enter into a raffle giving away one signed copy of my book.  The number of raffle entries you have is based on the tasks you chose to complete.  If you complete them all, you can be entered twenty times.  That raffle ends on November 1st (12:01am Eastern), so hurry to get your entries in now.  If a lot of people enter this raffle, I’m sure to do another one.  Oh, and you’ll want this giveaway code: Carlson.  It is worth one entry into the raffle.  Enter the Raffle here: LINK

The second giveaway is on Goodreads.  This one runs until November 30th.  As of writing this post, it is still awaiting approval from Goodreads administrative staff.  So if the link doesn’t work, please try again.  Enter the Goodreads Giveaway here: LINK

Another reason to follow me on Twitter or Facebook is because I will likely be announcing more giveaways on there as soon as I come up with more idea.

ATTENTION BOOK REVIEWERS

If you write book reviews on your blog/website or magazine, or know someone who does, get in touch with me.  This is another great way to get a free copy of the Kindle version of my book.  I will not pay for a review.  So if you charge for your reviews, I’ll pass.  You can go to the contact me section to contact me about a book review.  Just let me know a little about your site, and send me a link.

INTERVIEWS AND EVENTS

If you would like to interview me about my book, and other topics, you can contact me.  I’ll be happy to schedule something with you.  I’m open for newspapers, blogs, journals, magazines, Television, Radio, Podcasts, and I’m sure many other types of interviews.

If you own a Bookstore, you can contact me for a book signing.  I am already working on scheduling a couple of them to be announced soon.

PLUGGING AWAY

I want to thank everyone who is helping, and I am sure about to help, plug my book.  I really appreciate the word of mouth advertising.  I’ll keep everyone updated as the book releases.

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Is Anybody Out There?

Marketing for Writers

Over this last week, Plasma Frequency announced a 50% off sale on all advertising.  For as little as $9.50, anyone could have advertised in a magazine with a worldwide audience.  Exactly zero people took the offer.  An offer that was presented to many self published and traditional published authors.  It was also presented to several independent publishers.  I was truly stunned by it.  I couldn’t believe that not one person took this offer.  But, as I thought about it.  I am not so sure it is really that shocking of a thing.

Many authors think that they can put their novel on Amazon.com, and it will simply fly right off the shelves.  Maybe a few hundred Twitter and Facebook posts, and BAM!  Instant success.  Who knows maybe that has even worked for a few authors.  But if it has, I’ve not heard of it.  I’m down playing the value of Social Media in your marketing strategy.  It is an important part of it.  But it is just a part of it.  And the only plan many authors have, is to continue to shout out on Facebook, “Buy my book!  Buy it!”  But I speak from experience when I say that soon you will be wondering, Is anybody out there?  Is anyone paying attention to these posts.

Marketing strategy is the key words of the paragraph above.  You need to lay out a plan to get your book noticed.  It should be a detailed plan starting with “pre-promotion”, moving next to “release promotion”, and moving along with “continued promotion.”  You need a balance of promotional strategies in order to make your book successful.

Many of you may be stopping here.  You might be thinking that you don’t need to market your book because you plan to go through a traditional publisher.  You expect that they will handle all the promotional problems for you.  You’d be wrong.  Most of these places have a limited marketing budget.  They will use that money on promoting the books most likely to bring them the most money.  And even if they will be promoting your book, that should only be another part of your own promotional strategy.  You should be doing some marketing of your own.

Marketing Plan, some easy tips.

First, you should start making a marketing plan as soon as you are sure you are ready to see this book published.   For me, as a self publisher, that was as soon as I sent the manuscript to my editor.  Notice I didn’t wait until I had a release date in mind to start planning.  Some may even start thinking of marketing strategies right after they write “The End.”  If you are going the more traditional publishing route, you may wait until you get accepted.  Or you may wait until you know the marketing and promotional ideas of the publisher.  Either way, find a time that is right for you and start planning.  You can always modify the plan, change it, and work to start it later.

Pre-premotion

I’ll start with the first thing.  It is also the most over looked in my opinion.  That is “pre-promotion.”  This is your plan to promote your book before it is released, to create a “buzz” so to speak.  This is likely one of the best ways to get a title to stick in potential readers heads.  You want to get people thinking about, talking about, and perhaps even to preorder (see below).  Here are some things you might put on your Pre-promotion plan:

Mention your book whenever you can.  You may have noticed that I mention, and use as an example, my novel Dissolution of Peace when needed around this blog.  See, I just did it again there.  Most of the time I don’t even realize I did it.  Of course you can over do it.  I like to think that I only mention it when it is applicable to the situation.  I’ve seen some that simply drop the name everywhere all the time, or every blog post they write is about the book in some way.  It just doesn’t work for me.  I tend to stop reading those blogs that are solely devoted to ramming a particular product down my throat.  But I certainly don’t mind, or even notice in most cases, a little self promotion when I am reading a post that has meaning to me.  So if, like me, you blog about writing tips, daily muses, and other topics of interest to people, don’t be afraid to mention it where it applies.

Get some marketing materials together and share them with your followers.  I’ve noticed many of my blog, Twitter, and Facebook followers enjoy a little sneak peak before something goes live.  Marketing materials include cover art, after all that is how readers will recognize you book, it is the brand of your book.  But there are other marketing materials that can come in handy.  For example, my Facebook page has a new cover photo.  That photo pops up every time someone hovers their over my name.  You may make a few different photos to use around the different media platforms.  Another great thing is a book trailer.  There are also book plates, bookmarks, and other items you can get at a low cost and hand out free.

Many of you may be thinking: I’m not good at graphic design or video editing.  You may have already dropped a pretty penny on the cover art.  Book trailers can cost a lot of money.  One self publishing company charges over $1,000 minimum just for a thirty second book trailer.  Bookmarks, post card ads, ect all will cost.  But I challenge you to look around.  First, you might have a friend that will do it for you.  Plasma Spyglass Press’s logo was designed by a friend of mine.  I love it, and it cost me nothing.  Even if you don’t have a friends that can do it, they may know someone who can give you a deal.  A friend of mine recommended my cover artist, and I only paid $35 for it.  I got lucky with the other art, I did it myself.  I even did the book trailer myself.  But, if all else fails you can shop around for businesses that can help you.  Plasma Spyglass Press is thinking of revamping our business plan to include services for the self published author.  One last tip, don’t spend a lot of money on promotional materials or over do it.  Order just what you need.

Book reviews are great.  There are some places that you can pay to have a book review written.  I won’t waste my time or money on those.  You can if you wish, but I won’t.  There are a lot of free review sites out there.  Sites that will only ask for a free copy of your book.  In return they will provide you with an honest review.  Sure, you take the risk of a bad review.  And you may get some even if you don’t ask for reviews.  I put this under pre-marketing because you often have to start setting these things up in advance.  Whether it be through a blog, or a magazine, or through another outlet.  Most are very cooperative and will agree to wait a reasonable amount of time if your release date is coming soon.  ALWAYS send a finished product for review.

Offer a preorder special.  Unfortunately Createspace still won’t allow you the chance to pick a future release date, thus creating a preorder page on Amazon.  There are ways around this though.  First, have people preorder through you.  They can go to your website and preorder.  Offer a better price than the list price.  Perhaps even offer signed copies if you preorder through you.  Then when you release your book you can order that number of copies and ship them out to your new readers.  If you already have an Amazon Partner Store site (or whatever it is called), I understand that there is a way to do a preorder with that.  I am not familiar with it.

Don’t take out advertising before your book has been released.  Unless of course you have preorder information.  Many people will see an ad and click to buy at that moment, making an impulse purchase.  So paying for a advertisement on Facebook, in a magazine, or on any other platform is wasted money unless people can buy.  But, keep in mind a magazine’s production time.  That ad may not be live until after your book is released.  So you may have advertising paid for and drawn up, but it won’t be seen until after your novel is released.

Release Promotion

Release day has come.  Your book is now available to purchase.  The common practice here is to kick it into overdrive.  Either blowing a lot of time and money into marketing the book for a week, or by trying to schedule events around the clock.  I think this comes from the common practice in the typical business world.  Grand Opening sales, Hurry while supplies last, and so on down the line.  Even most traditional publishers will kick in to high gear for a big release and then when that is over, they will kick into high gear for the next author’s release.

I say slow down a second.  First, have a plan in place before release day.  Once again, ramming your book down everyone’s throats will not increase sales.  Does that mean you shouldn’t come out of the gate hard and fast?  No, you still want to have a “grand opening” celebration.  Tell the world your book is out now.  Spend the whole day telling them if wish.  But what will you do once you have posted to Facebook, Twitter, and your blog only to find you sold four copies?  This is where you need to expand your marketing plan.  Release Promotion should last several months or more.

Continue to try to find those book review outlets.  Talk to fellow writers and check out the magazines for your genre.  Contact them and still arrange for reviews.  The more you get the more potential readers you reach.

Look around for those local book stores.  They often love to have local writers come out and have a book signing.  They may even wish to carry your book on their shelves.  Some may want a small portion of sales.  Others may buy a bulk amount of your books for a near wholesale price and just keep whatever they sell them for.  Others may just like the idea of bringing customers into their store and won’t care that you sell your books there.  But either way, you need to work that out with them.  Believe it or not the local book store isn’t dead.  And these type of events are what keeps them going strong.

Book signings don’t have to just take place at book stores either.  Maybe you get a table at the local street fair.  Or maybe your local library would be interested.  Be creative, readers attend a lot of different events.  If you do think about renting tables at a fair or event, consider sharing the table with other local writers and splitting the cost.  For one, a fan of one local writer may see your book on the same table and check it out.  It will allow you to draw a bigger crowd while reducing your cost.  Plus you fill a table with different books, rather than a big table with just a stack of your one book.

Write a press release.  Local newspapers, magazines, and even local blogs love a story about a local resident doing well.  You can even tie a press release with a book signing event you are having.  Writing an engaging press release is a whole different ball game than writing a novel.  So I strongly suggest you read up on how to write a good release.  There are a lot of sites that will help you with a simple Google search.  Once you have a good press release, send it out to every newspaper, magazine, and blog in or about your local area.  Of course if you are in a smaller town you stand a better chance of being in that paper rather than the paper of a large metropolitan area.  But it doesn’t hurt to try.

Make yourself available for interviews and other engagements.  But also don’t be afraid to ask people either.  If your local library is having a local writers event, don’t be afraid to ask somebody if you can join.  You never know when the newspaper, local TV stations, or magazines might call and ask you if you would mind discussing your new book.  But rather than just waiting for them to call, be proactive and find them.  Press releases is one way.  But there are plenty of other ways to reach out.  Don’t be afraid to ask friends of friends to help.

Advertising.  It doesn’t have to cost as much as you think.  As I mentioned above, my magazine charges very little.  We even offer a discount for multiple issues and a discount for self published authors.  We design the ad at no extra charge too.  You will find that this is common with many markets.  Of course if you want to put an advertisement in Fantasy & Science Fiction, expect to pay a good price.  But there are a lot of markets out there that survive solely on advertising and don’t expect a lot for it.  You can even use social media ads to help you out.  These are effective at targeting an audience suited for your book.  The price is often adjustable based on your monthly budget.  Talk to your friends too.  See if they will put an advertisement on their website or blog.

The key with advertising is knowing your target audience.  An ad for my novel in Better Homes and Gardens probably won’t bring me a lot of sales.  But an advertisement in a science fiction publication will likely attract readers.  But, I might not want to put an ad in a hard science fiction magazine because that is not my target audience either.  The best thing you can do is find out the publication’s (or website’s) target audience.  If it matches yours then go for it.

Promotional offers.  Have special offers where you can.  You may have a discount or you may put two of your novels together for a package price.  I understand there are limits to this.  Clearly you want to make money of the sale, to some degree.  But everyone likes to feel like they got a deal too.

Continued Promotion

Your book has been out now for a little while now.  You may have had a huge influx of sales, or you may have had a steady stream of sales.  But after the first few months, we authors have a habit of moving on to our next project.  After all we didn’t stop writing because our latest novel was released.  But you can’t stop promotions now.  You may have scaled back, but don’t stop.

You may have ran a number of ads for your novel on release, but now you may want to scale it back to one ad.  But remember to figure out what ad worked the best for you.  Maybe change up the artwork to get a fresh look.  But keep something running to get peoples attention.  Unless everyone has bought your book, there are still potential readers out there that may not have heard of your book yet.

Still schedule those book signings.  Maybe even spend one day on your next vacation (assuming you get vacations) signing books at the local bookstore of your vacation destination.  You may not do an event every weekend but still keep the options open.

Cross promotion is excellent.  When you are out promoting the next newest book, don’t forget to bring some copies of your other works.  I’m surprised how often I see writers with six novels out, but they only have the one novel with them when they buy that table at the fair.  Tell people about all your books when you are out promoting the newest one.  Don’t forget to mention your other books in your newest book.  You see this all the time in novels: Other works by..

Selling your books is the same as a business

If you are selling your books you are in business, your business is writing and selling your books.  You will not make money by approving the proof and then sitting on you butt and waiting for the cash to roll in.  You have to get out there and let people know about your book.  You don’t have to spend a lot.  But expect to spend something.  Even a free book review will cost you a copy of your book.  The more you spend advertising won’t necessarily bring you more sales.  But spending your money wisely will get you more readers.  You can spend $50 a month wisely and get 20 times more readers than the person that throws away $1,000.

The point is simple.  You need a plan in place.  Every good business has a marketing plan and budget.  Your book needs to have the same thing.  The plan is fluid and you change it as you find out what works and what doesn’t.  But you must have a road map.  Hopefully I’ve provided you with some powerful tips.  Now go make your plan and get that book sold.

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Blurbs

Every time I blurb, my wife gets mad and opens a window.  All joking aside, blurbs are an important part of selling a book.  But, I find it rarely discussed in writing groups.  This is because in a traditional market, blurbs are often left to the Editor to write.  So, with my recent post on book covers, it seemed important that we discuss the back of the book.

Blurb Versus Synopsis

A synopsis is a very important part of pitching your book to traditional publishers and markets, but it is not a blurb.  If you want to sell your manuscript to a publisher you need a synopsis.  A synopsis is a summary of your story including key plot points and the ending.   You provide this to editors and agents in an attempt to get them to read your manuscript (and hopefully sign it).  It is not something you would use for marketing your book.

A blurb is that teaser you find on the back of the book.  Think movie trailer in written form.  It is a quick teaser.  It provides just enough plot, character, and scene to entice someone to read your book.  It is a tool for marketing your book quickly and effectively.

A self published author will find themselves writing more Blurbs.  Where as traditional publishers will usually write the blurb for the Author.  This goes back to what I have talked about in my post on self publishing, marketing is left in the hands of the author.  But really blurbs are not that hard.  In my opinion they are a bit easier, and certainly more fun, then a synopsis.

How to Write a Blurb

I mentioned this already, but you need to think movie trailer in a written form.  You need to construct your blurb in a form to sell your book.  Entice an audience.  Get them to take your book home (virtually or physically).

The blur should be short, somewhere in the 250 to 300 character range.  After all it has to fit on the back of the book but it also needs to be a quick “PICK ME” type of a sale.   A short quick description will hold the reader’s attention long enough for you to finish.  After all you want them to make a decision based on your whole sales pitch, not half of it.

Blurbs have three parts.  You can divide these parts up as paragraphs if you are looking for a simple formula for an effective blurb.  Obviously these would short paragraphs just giving a quick taste of what they can expect to read about.  Or, you can use the parts in your own way to make a blurb that fits your style and book.  Either way, you need these three elements to have an effective blurb.

Part 1 is typically a quick introduction to the setting and the characters.  The “In a world” line we’ve heard so many movie trailers start with. The first line needs to hook them.  Some blurb writers suggest starting with controversy or even asking a question.  But a hook is more then a punch in the face.  Sure a punch in the face gets your attention, but it would also piss you off.  Think of it more as a tap on the shoulder.  Get their attention, while giving them something to look forward to.  Don’t give away too much plot and certainly not any twists.  A question may work.  Think about every time some one has sold you something.  Most of the time they start with a question.  Questions call for an answer.  There is no formula for the perfect hook.  Establish setting and character in a way the interests the readers.

Part 2 is typically where you introduce the conflict, the major one at least.  Remember you are not highlighting plot points.  This is where you want to introduce the same conflict that got your story going in the first place.  Do NOT reveal the resolution to the conflict.  Why read if you already know how it ends?  Have you ever watched a movie trailer, thought it was great and went to see the movie?  Only when you saw the movie you realized all the best stuff was in the trailer.  You felt a bit disappointed with the movie, didn’t you?  Use some good stuff, but save the best stuff for the book.

Part 3 is the hardest of the part.  You need to lead the reader to the resolution with out giving it away.  Leave the reader wondering:  Will he escape?  Does she defeat the empire?  Is is possible they could fail?  In fact many blurbs end with a question.  Because once again our brains are wired to want an answer to a question.  The only way to get the answer is to read the book.

Blurb Tips

  1. Read a lot of blurbs.  Get some of your favorite books and read the back of them.  Go to the book store and read the blurbs on books you’ve never read before.  Take note of the blurbs that make you want to read the book.  What was it about that blurb that hooked you?  Identify it and learn from it.
  2. Make the reader care.  Give them characters they can relate to and a plot they want to read.  Provide an element most people can relate to.  A tough work assignment, a romantic crush, a victim of something out of their control, an injustice, or anything else a reader can relate to.
  3. Use riveting words but use them the right way.  Victim, hate, Peace, conflict, war, hopeless, are all words that bring a certain emotional impact.  Find strong words that invoke the emotional impact you want your story to have.
  4. Suggest all the possible outcomes.  You don’t want to give away the ending.  The key word here is “suggest”.  You don’t need to say:  “Will she win the war?  Will she die trying?  Will she lose everything for this one cause? Or, will she triumph over all in everlasting glory?”  First, saying all that is a mouth full.  I got lost several times just writing it.  But, you can hint that all these possibilities could happen.
  5. Shout lines.  This is a term used to describe bold text or other text that is distinguished from the other text.  It could be a short line that lets the reader know the type of book they are reading.  Personally, I haven’t seen much need for something like that.  But, if you are going to highlight a part of our blurb, make sure it is a strong part.  A defining line.
  6. Look at your manuscript.  Is there a great line in there that you think sums up the book well.  The blurb I am putting together came from the lines I had written.  Give you manuscript another read before you put together the blurb.
  7. Give your blurb the same love and care as the rest of your manuscript.  Edit it, read it over.  Give it to trial readers, and then edit it again.  It is okay to start with more that 250 words.  You can cut out what you don’t need.  But look over your blurb carefully.  Make a bad impression here and your book will sit.  Remember you can have gold written on the inside pages, but if no one ever opens the book they will never know.

The cover of a book is important.  The back cover may be even more so.  The blurb is your chance to tell a reader why your book is worth their time and money.  Sell them on your book with an effective, well thought out, attention grabbing blurb.

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