I write like
Jack London

I Write Like. Analyze your writing!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Did You Hear. . .

. . .about agent Ted Weinstein's joint interview of Amanda Hocking and Barry Eisler?  If you haven't already read the transcript, go check it out.

My $0.02--

It was nice to hear that Amanda and Barry have the same opinion I've had all along--there's no one perfect path for every writer.  My crit group is a perfect example.  Faye and Christie have gone the traditional route.  Teri signed with an e-publisher.  I'm planning on indie publishing this year.  And Jody, who had a couple of short stories published through traditional methods is taking a long look at all her options, but first she needs to finish her mystery.

And that doesn't mean we won't change up our choices down the line.  Keep your options open, folks, and do what YOU deem best for yourself.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Author On Her Own - Colleen Thompson

Yep, my Jedi master, my Yoda, is going indie in a whole new genre.  Okay, the genre's not new, but it's new for her.  Author extraordinaire Colleen Thompson and writing partner Parke Roberts have a brand-new epic fantasy The Night Holds the Moon available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.  But don't fret if you love her suspense novels!  Capturing the Commando will be out in June.

Blurb

An ancient instrument of unspeakable power, Lhant’s legendary Saireflute is meant to be played only as a ceremonial reminder of the Queen’s might, and to be handled only by a docile, well-trained virgin. When an accident of fate --or magic-- instead places it in the hands of a disgraced and disreputable young lady-in-waiting, Elzin sees her miraculous ascent as her escape from a flogging, the furious Queen sees it as the motive for a murder…

And the mysterious Highlander Count Caldan Val Torska recognizes it as one last, desperate chance for his proud but subjugated people, no matter what--or who--he must sacrifice to save them.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Marketing Addendum - Twitter Tip

If you are tweeting every two seconds and all you're doing is selling your shit, by Grabthar's hammer, by the sons of Warvan, I SHALL UNFOLLOW YOU!*

And I really doubt I'm the only one doing this.


*With all due respect to the marvelous Alan Rickman.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Author On Her Own - Nina Cordoba

Nina Cordoba is smart, sassy and a lot of fun to be around. When I confessed to her back in January I was considering indie publishing, She smiled and whispered, "I'm doing it."

And Clan Cordoba has turned Nina's publishing into a major family affair. Daughter Sierra designs the covers, and rock'n'roll/IT god of a husband Abel handles the formatting, uploading and web mastery.  Son Xan serenades them on his clarinet when he's not inquirying about dinner.

Not Dreaming of You isn't Nina's first publication, but romantic comedy is where her heart lies.  It's available online at both Amazon and Barnes and Noble.  I hope you'll check it out.  You won't be disappointed.

Blurb

Kiki Villanueva holds a master’s degree from UCLA, is the best second grade teacher ever, and believes she had a psychic dream when she was thirteen in which she was given a list of her future husband’s attributes. Children are her life, and Kiki has good reason to think she may not have any if she doesn’t marry soon. Since typical dating methods haven’t been working out, she decides that when she goes back to L.A. for the summer, she’ll start using the list to sort through potential candidates.

When jaded political journalist Mark Bennett confesses to his doctor he no longer finds women—or anything else—exciting, Dr. Chuck is worried he’s depressed and suggests a change of pace. Mark agrees to write a fluff piece for a magazine about people who join high-priced dating services. (His premise is "Losers or Lunatics?") The dating service introduces him to Kiki, and he’s charmed by her open, passionate nature—not to mention her big, brown “do me” eyes—though she definitely belongs in the "lunatic" category with that psychic stuff. Mark is a confirmed bachelor from a family where no one says the L-word. However, while accompanying warm, sexy Kiki on her match-making service dates for his story, he soon wonders why he’s literally driving her to the arms of other men. If he could only get her to forget her list, and everything he said when they first met—oh, and the fact that he’s been a complete jackass… But Kiki’s not about to waste time on an emotionally challenged cynic who only wants to “play” and is definitely not on her list, even if he is handsome, and funny, and sexy—uh-oh!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

My Bribe

If I can get a couple of thousand words done this morning,this will be my reward this afternoon. Well, the movie plus extra butter on my popcorn.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

I'm a Bad Influence

GK decided to go through my iPod playlists yesterday.  He recognized the Black Eyed Peas from their Super Bowl show, and then he asked for the names of the specific songs the Peas had sung during half-time.  I told him, but GK ended up downloading both Monkey Business and The E.N.D. in their entirety from my laptop.

I told him that under no circumstances was he to sing along with this one in front of his grandparents (aka my in-laws):

Friday, March 25, 2011

And the Analysis Just Keeps on Coming

Today starts one of my rare weekends off from the Day Job.  I plan on writing during the morning before heading over to Joyful Jody's house for her incredible pesto cheese spread on cracked pepper crackers and some brainstorming.

In the meantime--if you're not tired of the Eisler/Hocking/St. Martin's hoopla, check out Jason Pinter's interview of Barry at The Daily Beast and Kris Rusch's take on Amanda and Barry's decisions.

Then there's Amanda's reasoning in her own words.  This is a woman wise beyond her years.

Once again, I repeat my writing mantra:  Every writer has a different path, and no particular path is the right path for everyone.

Right now, I'm just freakin' ecstatic that I was able to successfully convert Blood Magick to MOBI format.  I can now read it on my Kindle for PC app.  Woo-hoo!  Not much longer, folks!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Marketing - The Last Word . . . For Now

I know a lot of you out there have been reading the Marketing series of posts looking for ideas on selling your books.  That's great!  And I hope I helped a little.

But the one thing you absolutely cannot forget is that all the fabulous marketing in the world won't make a difference if you are putting out crappy product.

An indie-published commentor on another website (no names to protect both the guilty and the innocent) complained that a certain indie-published blogger's sales figures were bullshit.

I checked out both the blogger and the commenter's books on Amanzon's sample downloads.  [For the record, I have both the Kindle for PC and Nook for PC apps loaded on my laptop.]

The blogger's sample had a simple cover design with an eye-catching color.  The formatting was neat and in an easy-to-read font.  The text itself only had one typo in the first eighty pages (the article 'a' was left out of one sentence).

The commentor's sample had a very dark cover with dark lettering that was difficult to read.  The formatting didn't have any chapter breaks.  (I can deal with a couple of lines between chapters instead of a page break, but this all ran together.)  The spelling and basic grammar errors were too numerous to mention.

I could see why the commentor's sales were so low.  She may have the greatest story since the Iliad, but if the package it comes in is unattractive, people will pass it by.

So don't rush to throw something up on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.  Make sure your books are the best they can possibly be before you unleash them in the wild.  You won't regret it.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

More Breaking News

Once again, my examination of marketing has been interrupted by significant news in the digital world.

I don't know how many of you have followed the lawsuit by Eminem's production company against Universal Music Group ("UMG") over digital rights and revenue.  Eminem (aka Marshal Mathers) signed his contract in 1998, right before digital downloads revolutionized the music industry.  Even though the 1998 contract was rescinded and replaced by a second contract in 2003 (after UMG made a deal with Apple to sell Eminem's music through the iTunes store), the key issue of payment for the downloads was not specifically addressed.

The legal issue centers on the contract's wording of whether digital downloads should be considered a sale or a license.  In other words, under the contract terms, Eminem gets a certain percentage if a CD is sold versus a much higher percentage if that same music is licensed for use by a film or TV show.  The suit revolves around how digital music should be considered when no specific clause exists in the contract, but both parties are acting under the assumption such digital rights were sold.

In 2010, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (and I'll be the first to admit they are a very liberal court) ruled that a digital download is a license to use the music, not a physical sale.  If you're curious, here's the apellate decision.

The amazing thing is on Monday the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the case.  This generally means the Supremes agree that the Ninth got the law right, or at least didn't eff it up bad enough to fix.

Now, the case will go back to the Federal District Court of Central California (i.e. the original trial court) to determine the damages that UMG must pay Eminem and F.T.B. Productions.  The estimates being thrown about are $40-50 million.  I have no doubt UMG will appeal the trial court's final figure as well.

This is a precedent setting case, and it'll be interesting to see who tries to use it first in the digital book arena.

***

Then to top things off (as if the Eminem case wasn't enough), Judge Denny Chin rejected the Google Book Settlement yesterday.  His big concern was Goodle's blatant grab for author's rights without regard to copyright law (which is why Author's Guild, etc., threw a fit when the Digital Library Project was first proposed).  The rejection was made without prejudice, which means the parties can hammer out a new settlement agreement and submit it to the court.  In his decision, Judge Chin said if the parties change to an opt-in settlement, instead of an opt-out, it would ameliorate many of the objections to the settlement.

It's nice to see the justice system standing up for artists' rights.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Did You Hear. . .

. . .about Barry Eisler turning down a $500,000 advance last week?

For the details, check out Barry's talk with Joe Konrath at both Barry and Joe's blogs.

Dean Wesley Smith gives his own thoughts on the significance of Eisler walking away from such a deal.

Then a few hours after the Eisler confession, the New York Times broke a story that Amanda Hocking allegedly has a four-book deal in the middle of an auction.

My $0.02:

Contrary to other opinions I've seen on the interwebs, I doubt Eisler is making a mistake.  Something both my business and tax professors tried to ram through my head is that money in your hand is much preferably to money you're waiting for.  By indie publishing his next book this spring, Eisler can have that $500,000 in his hands much, MUCH sooner than if he waited until his traditional publisher pays him the typical thirds over the next two years.

As for walking away from a New York deal, I watched several midlist friends and acquaintances explore the indie route over the last four months.  I'm talking about people who hit the the NYT list and were nominated for Ritas.  So far, I haven't heard anyone complain about the chance they took.  And folks like Angie and Colleen already have a platform to springboard into indie publishing.  So I can't see a major NYT author like Eisler doing worse than my mid-list pals.

Then there's people like Melissa Ohnoutka and me who are starting from scratch.  Melissa has already made Faithful Deceptions available in both electronic and paper format.  I've already had two people ask if I'll have paper versions of Blood Magick and Zombie Love, and the books aren't even out yet.  *grin*

While I find the NYT story a little suspect (ex-attorney speaking:  you don't leak this kind of stuff without hoping to twist something in your favor and that's assuming it's not an out-and-out lie), I can see the Big 6 wanting a slice of Amanda's $2 million pie.  (Edit:  Publisher's Weekly confirmed the NYT story this morning.)

Personally, I have to side with Dean Wesley Smith on this one.  Print is not disappearing over night.  And indie publishers may be performing the same disservice to their readers that traditional publishers are guilty of by not having multiple formats of their products.

Sooooo. . .

Does that mean I'm giving up the indie plan?  No, I'm too niche for NY.  But I need to spend a little more time than I planned exploring POD options.  And yes, I think it'll be worth it.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Marketing - The Golden Goose

So what is the magic bullet when it comes to marketing?  The ever-elusive Word-Of-Mouth.

Anyone who can figure out how WOM works will reap millions.  Seriously.

That was the whole point of the videos over the weekend.  What particular theme strikes a chord with millions of Americans?  What set of circumstance allows an author to sell millions of copies?  What's the secret that makes family, friends and neighbors turn to each other and say, "OMG!  You've got to read this!"

As writers, we should study the best sellers.  And I don't mean folks like Patterson, King or Roberts.  I'm referring to the flashes that seem to ignite overnight, even thought the person(s) at the center of the flashpoint may have been kicking around for years or decades.

I stuck in Sons of Maxwell because United Breaks Guitars told a story.  The key to their tale was the utter disregard with which American corporations treat their customers.  For Amanda Hocking and Stephenie Meyer, teens could explore certain subjects that many adults refuse to discuss (or refuse to admit they have knowledge of) through fantasy.  The Da Vinci Code hit when many Americans struggled to redefine what faith means to them.

No matter what you personally think of these bestsellers, read them.  Study them.  Figure out what makes them dig deep into people's psyches and not let go.  If you can figure out the why, you'll be able to apply it to your own writing.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Marketing - My Blood Approves

Like many writers, Amanda Hocking toiled in obscurity for years.  Sending out queries.  Collecting rejections.  Then she decided to take a chance and publish the books she'd written.  Books she believed in though no one else did.

Amanda's young adult paranormals hit a chord with her readers. This video was created by a fan in June of 2010. A good six months before anyone else would recognize Amanda's name.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Marketing - Sons of Maxwell

Three years ago, Canadian band Sons of Maxwell were on their way to Nebraska for a tour when another passenger witnessed some baggage handlers for United treat the band's equiment rather roughly.  Lead singer Dave Carroll soon discovered his prized Taylor was smashed.  When United refused to acknowledge Mr. Carroll's claim, the band wrote a little ditty and created a hilarious video of the incident.

The video went viral in 2009.  There's no way Sons of Maxwell could have paid for this kind of publicity.

Talk about lemonade from lemons!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Marketing - Traditional Advertising

Currently reading - Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Titan's Curse by Rick Riordan

What most traditional marketing gurus consider traditional advertising includes magazine/newspaper ads, TV spots, or radio commercials.  I'll make this short and sweet once again--save your money.

This type of advertising is incredibly expensive.  Unfortunately, what makes it work is repetition.  If you don't believe me, watch Saturday morning cartoons with your kids (or your neighbor's kids, nieces, nephews, etc.)  Watch how many times during the course of four hours over four weeks the same spot airs.  Now calculate that by a $10,000.

A lot of money, huh?

And the other types of traditional advertising aren't much cheaper.

If you're Stephen King, the publisher has no problems throwing millions of advertising dollars around because they've calculated a potential return on investment ("ROI").  Publishers DON'T spend that kind of money on anyone but their A-listers.  If you're mid-list, you're on your own.

And that very mentality is one of the reasons, I'm looking at independent publishing.  And there's lots of cheaper alternatives that work.  And work much better.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Marketing - Networking

Currently reading - Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Titan's Curse by Rick Riordan

Sorry for the late post.  I started drafting this yesterday, but had to make a little trip to the dentist.  I love my dentist!  She gives me nitrous oxide and anesthetic gel and shots.  I don't feel a thing while she's working.

Afterward is another story.  I'm incredibly sensitive to vibration, so once everything wears off, the mother monster of all headaches leaves me pretty much incapcitated.  Needless to say, no writing of any kind happened after I got home.

But that's yesterday.  So, on the the good stuff!

***

The number one way people land jobs and make business deals is through networking.  It's the one method of marketing that's proven to work.  And yes, it applies to writing/publishing as well.

Here's an excellent example:

Remember Pam Noles from one of my posts on Saturday?  She has a friend, Cat Mihos.  Cat happens to work for Neil Gaiman.  (And if you don't know who Neil is, you should.  No matter what genre you write.)  Neil mentions Pam's blog on his blog.  I read Neil's blog because he's charming and witty, so I check out Pam's blog, because if Neil mentions it, it must also be charming and witty.

A year later, Pam mentions on her blog she's trying to raise funds for her one-woman show at the 2011 Hollywood Fringe Festival.  I donate, but I also tweet and blog about Pam's efforts.  I sent e-mails on the loops of the two RWA chapters I belong to.  Two of my RWA buddies, Diane Holmes and Melissa Ohnoutka, also donated.  Pam made her fund-raising goal, and she'll be at Hollywood Fringe Festival this year.

Now, take a good, hard look at all the links I put in the last two paragraphs.  Out of the five people I mentioned, one person I've met online, two I've met in person, two I do not know at all.

But I wouldn't have met Pam online if I wasn't a fan of Neil's and she didn't wasn't a friend of Cat's.  I wouldn't have met Diane and Melissa if we all hadn't joined the Northwest Houston chapter of RWA.

And that's the key most people miss.  Networking means getting to know people.  Making a connection with other humans.  Putting your real self out there.

People know if you're only talking to them because you want something from them.  Oh sure, you may con a few, but humans as a whole are not that stupid.

I can hear y'all thinking, "But Suzan, what about social networking?"

Honestly, folks, the method you use for networking DOES NOT MATTER!  I've heard the same crap y'all have heard.  "Only Twitter works."  "Only Facebook works."  "You have to do everything online to network or you will fail miserably."

To those people, I say "Bullshit!"

I was a computer consultant and an attorney long before I focused on a writing career.  The networking game was the same in both of those areas as it is in writing/publishing.  The only thing that's changed is that you've got a longer reach with the internet.

If you want some real world advice:

1)  Focus on the one or two methods you're most comfortable with.  You can't do everything.  You'll end up in a straight jacket if you try.

2)  The Goal is getting to know people, which means being your real self.

3)  The Threefold Law/Karma/The Golden Rule is in full effect.  Help others and they're more likely to return the favor.

As for the links above, I have no trouble plugging people I admire/like:

Pam Noles - If you'll be in the Los Angeles are June 16-26, 2011, check out Pam's show at the Hollywood Fringe Festival!

Cat Mihous - This lovely lady runs Neverwear.net, the official Neil Gaiman clothing shop.  Her latest item is the Super Cabal t-shirt with proceeds going to the Valley of the Kings animal rescue.  (For those who don't know, Cabal is a white German Shepard that Neil and his family took in several years ago.)

Neil Gaiman - Considered by many to be the greatest living fantasy author with awards too numerous to mention.  If you haven't read any of his works, I recommend starting with the complete Sandman graphic novels, Americans Gods, or The Graveyard Book.

Diane Holmes - This fabulous lady runs Pitch University, a way for new writers to hone their pitches to agents and editors with a focus on confidence and comfort.

Melissa Ohnoutka - A fellow author taking the independent publishing route.  Her latest, Faithful Deceptions, is now available in both Kindle and paperback versions on Amazon.com.

(Edit to add:  Great minds think alike.  Nathan Bransford has a post today about focusing on the social aspect of social networking.)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Marketing - Bookmarks, Flyers and Postcards

Currently reading - Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Titan's Curse by Rick Riordan

Paper products for marketing?

Save a tree.

Seriously.

There was a time when bookmarks, flyers, postcards, snail-mailing lists, etc. were necessary marketing tools.  Heck, snail mail was how readers let authors know what they thought of the book.

But where I used to be on several authors' mailing lists to know when to look for their next book, now they e-mail their readers.  Or I can check their website for the next release date.  Or check Amazon.

Want a good example?  Lots of writers leave their promo materials at the Goody Room during the RWA national conference.  As a volunteer, I can tell you from experience ARCs and books go first.  (Okay, the truth is the chocolate goes first.)  Then the useful things like pens or matches.  At the end of the conference, those of us cleaning the Goody Room are forced to trash a hundred pounds of bookmarks, flyers and postcards.  Not even the authors themselves want them back!

So once again, I'd advise you to save your money.

Think I'm all doom and gloom?  Tomorrow, we'll talk about a marketing technique I believe works.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Marketing - The Book Trailer

Currently reading - Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Titan's Curse (PB)

Trailers appeared on the book industry scene in the early 2000's.  Fashioned similar to Hollywood's movie trailers, a book trailer can advertise a specific book, a book series, or a specific author.  Creators use live action, animation or still pictures to make their trailers and often add some type of soundtrack to the video.

Book trailers increased in popularity in the mid-2000's with the popularity of YouTube.  Publishers began featuring them at conferences and on their websites.  Book trailers can cost less than $100 if you do your own with stock photography and royalty-free music, or they can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars with companies like Circle of Seven.  Most of the cost for these trailers is born by the authors.

But do book trailers actually work?

I literally can't find any documentation that shows a correlation between trailers and sales.  None.

In fact, over the last three weeks, I tried an experiement here at Wild, Wicked & Wacky.  I posted five book trailers, all of them professionally done.  One was even won an advertising award for Best Book Trailer.  One trailer was for a book I bought as a gift for my MIL and a co-worker at the Day Job.  Three were for books I bought for my personal use.  One I thought was downright hysterical.  I then invited my readers to comment whether they'd buy the book after viewing the trailer.

I got absolutely no response.  None whatsoever.

So I tried a different tack.  I held a contest asking my readers if they could guess which books featured in the trailers I'd bought.  The prize was a drawing for an e-gift card for $10.  It wasn't a hard contest because I tell you guys what I'm reading.  Only one person responded (for which you have my deepest thanks, Mariee!), which leads me to think book trailers don't mean much as far as marketing goes.

So for an indie-published author, is it worth doing a trailer?  Honestly, unless you can designed a trailer that puts the viral video of ex-DJ Ted Williams to shame, I don't believe you'll get a whole lot of attention.  If you're on a tight budget like I am, there are better ways to spend your money (like on a fantastic cover artist) or your time (like your next novel or short story).

Does anyone have else have an opinion on book trailers?  Know of anyone where the book trailer made a linkable difference in sales?  I'd love to hear from you.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Indie V. Trad: Jon Cryer Style

Currently reading - Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Titan's Curse

If someone gives you a hard time pursuing a route that you believe is right for you, I strongly suggest following Jon Cryer's classy act:

Sunday, March 13, 2011

What to Watch this Weekend?

The guys will probably win with the latest Johnny Depp flick. I have to admit it does look cute.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Please Help!

A lovely, talented writer is trying to raise funds for her one-woman show at Kickstarter.  I've been reading Pam Noles' blog for about a year.  She always entertaining and thought-provoking.  And she only has three days left for her fundraising drive.

If you want to check out how talented she is, here's her debut at Rant N' Rave, an ode to All I Want for Christmas Is a Millenium Falcon.



(Edit: Ack! Sooo embarrassed I spelled Pam's name wrong. It's fixed.)

What to Watch this Weekend?

Doubt if I'll talk the guys into this movie for the weekend.  But hey, it's Spring Break!  I should have time later this week.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Visiting the USA

Currently reading - The Fixer by Jon F. Merz (Ebook)

Okay, Jay Lake pointed me to this nifty little app.  I'm woefully behind my goal of visiting all fifty states before I'm fifty.


visited 36 states (72%)
Create your own visited map of The United States

No, I'm not sharing my pathetic record of countries visited.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Status Update

Currently reading - The Fixer by Jon F. Merz (Ebook)

Now I know how Luke felt before the Battle of Yavin.  I'm a farm kid who thinks she can take on the universe.  Then I get a good look at what my friends and I are facing.  A lot of us aren't going to make it.  Some of us will get medals.  But you just don't know which side you're going to land on.

Not much different than the indie publishing scene, huh?

Currently, I'm fixing the HTML formatting on the first book in the Bloodlines series.  Then it's off to finish the rewrites and editng in the first Seasons of Magick novella.  Thank goodness next week is Spring Break.  I'm way behind thanks to the stupid flu.  Three weeks and I still can't shake this cough.  But the persistent headache has finally lightened up to the point where I can finish my financials review and turn everything over to Ed, our CPA, so he can work his tax magic.

Photo examples and descriptions have been turned in to M____ who's doing the covers for Bloodlines and S___ who's doing the covers for Seasons of Magick.  These gals are incredibly talented, and I can't wait to see what they come up with for me.

Around the first of April, I should have enough money set aside to purchase a set of ISBNs and register copyrights for the first novel and novella.

Next on the task list is a review my marketing strategy.  I'll talk more about this on Monday.

All-in-all I'm still on track for my career plans.  The great thing lately?  I see more and more writers looking at all their options before making any decisions.  As I said to my Jedi Master (aka Colleen Thompson) over at Boxing the Octopus, there's all kind of opportunities for writers these days.  It's just a question of what do want to do yourself and what do you want to farm out.

How's things going with the rest of y'all?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A Former Agent's Take on Trad v. Indie

Currently reading - The Fixer by Jon F. Merz (e-book)

On Monday, former Curtis Brown agent and current author of Jacob Wonderbar and the Cosmic Space Kapow, Nathan Bransford wrote a thoughtful and fairly balanced piece on the current paper versus digital controversy.  (Go read it.  I'll wait.)

After a couple of days contemplating what Nathan said, I believe he left out a few important pieces of the puzzle.

Folks like Amanda Hocking and Joe Konrath do have overhead.  Amanda has hired editors for her works, but she designs her own covers.  Joe trades editing with other writer friends and hires a cover artist.  Depending on your talents/desires, you're going to have some overhead putting out your novel as an independent.  Granted it may run only $100 and a lot of favors traded, but do not ignore the non-money cost of doing business.  Trust me, the IRS won't.

Also, Nathan implies in his piece that all of Amanda's and Joe's books are $0.99.  Amanda and Joe are treating their products as any other retailer would.  They've set one or two books at $0.99 as loss leaders, just like Barnes & Noble have Snooki's book prominently displayed as you walk into the store with 40% off the cover price (or they did the last time I was in my neighborhood store).  Amanda and Joe then have the rest of their books priced higher (all the ones I've checked out are $2.99).

Lastly, I don't think Nathan stressed enough how much work these two people have put into their careers.  If you've ever owned your own business, you know that 'work' isn't 9-to-5.  It's 24/7.  In both cases, their 'overnight' success took a decade or more.  If you plan to follow the indie path and reach a certain level of achievement, get that through your head now!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Marketing and A Different Kind of Contest

The winner is Mariee!  I will be e-mailing you shortly, my dear.  And for the record Mariee was dead on with what I bought for myself.  Though I did buy two copies of Divorced, Desperate & Delicious as gifts for the holidays.  Thanks for participating!

Currently reading - The Fixer by Jon F. Merz (E-book)

I wanted to try an experiment by having blog readers comment on book trailers.  The experiment was a raging success (or an absolute failure, depending on your POV).  No one commented about the book trailers.  No one.  Heck, even my thirty regular readers didn't comment.

Which leads me to question whether book trailers are effective?  Right now, I'd have to come to the sad conclusion that the answer is no.  I can't honestly say I bought any books because of a trailer.

So what type of marketing does work?  Well, that's something I'll be exploring, but LATER!  It's contest time!  And up for grabs is a $10 e-certificate to Amazon or Barnes & Noble (winner's choice).

Out of the five book trailers I posted, which ones are for books I actually bought?  Leave your answer in comments.  Click on the links if you need to review the posts.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
Divorced, Desperate & Delicious
Night of the Living Trekkies
Born of Ice
Soulless

To enter the drawing, please leave a comment with you answer for which of these books I actually have purchased.  And please, PLEASE leave a contact e-mail!

PLEASE NOTE:  Comments will be closed on Sunday, March 13, at approximately 12 Noon CDT, or whenever I crawl out of bed.  GK will draw a name from his Capt. Rex helmet if I can pry him away from the Xbox. The winner will be posted shortly thereafter.


Legal $#!@:

The contest is only open to anyone with access to Amazon.com or BarnesandNoble.com. To the FTC, any books and/or prizes have been purchased out of my own damn pocket and will be listed on my tax return as a business expense.  So there!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Book Trailers - Soulless

Think these book trailer videos have been for nothing?  Go back and review them because tomorrow I'll have a contest based on the videos.  The prize?  A gift card to Amazon or Barnes & Noble (the winner's choice!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Book Trailers - Born of Ice

The third book of Sherrilyn Kenyon's League of Assassins series. Does this make you want to buy the whole series?

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Line in the Sand

Currently reading - Pale Demon by Kim Harrison (HC)

I have internet back, but now we don't have our home phone line.  Hey, I didn't want to talk to telemarketers anyway.  LOL  (Yes, we're on the No-Call list, but it doesn't prevent companies you are doing business with from calling you incessantly.)

This week there seems to be a lot of folks drawing lines in the sand in various blogs and news articles.  Either you're for traditional print publishing or you're for independent e-publishing.  For most of these people, there's no middle ground.

I'm addressing the writers out there--don't cut off your nose to spite your face.  The fantastic thing about the current changes/chaos/opportunities is they widen our horizons as artists.

Take a good hard look at what you write.  How are you as an artist best served in finding your audience?  I freely admit I'm a niche writer.  Zombies, with a few exceptions, aren't exactly mainstream.  Therefore, traditional publishing is probably not where I'm going to find my audience.

Ask yourselves the hard questions to find your place in the new publishing world.  And don't diss someone because they took a different path than you.  I believe in the threefold law.  Whether you call it karma or the golden rule, do you really want people walking away from your terrific stories because they perceive you as a total jerk?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

When Great Ideas Go Bad

Currently reading - Pale Demon by Kim Harrison (HC)

DH thought it's be a great idea to switch to AT&T's U-verse for phones and internet.  We both work from home (except for the Day Job).  Four times the speed?  Couldn't argue that, especially when it was taking for-e-vah to load WWII battle maps.  (Guess what unit GK is on?)

Except--today is the second time in a week a tech's been at the house.  Today, not only do we not have U-verse, we no longer have our DSL connection.  ARGH!

Do these people realize how much I depend on the freakin' internet for EVERYTHING?!

I'm at Barnes & Noble for a few minutes between dental appointments and car registration just so I can get my freakin' e-mail.  (Because now would be when I get a 'Yes' from an agent with my luck.)

*sigh*  So if the there's no posts for the next few days (except for those I managed to schedule earlier this week), don't fret!  I'll be back with more info on the indie publishing scene as soon as I can.

In the meantime if you have an Internet connection, go read Jon F. Merz's guest post on Joe Konrath's blog.  Interesting take on a convert to the cause.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Thing That's Easy to Forget - Editing

Currently reading - Pale Demon by Kim Harrison (HC)

Editing.  Despite what a lot of indie publishing writers think, almost everyone definitely needs it.

Hell, I need it.  One of the most difficult things to learn as a writer is how to look objectively at your baby.  Don't fool yourself into thinking you can upload your first draft (or second or third) to Amazon.  For your baby to sell, it needs to look and smell its best.

Start with the basics.  A copy of Strunk & White's Elements of Style is always a good reference guide.  Take classes, in person or online.  Find a good critique group.  Don't take the criticisms personally.  Learn from everything anyone has to say, even if it's what not to do (or how to deliver critcism more politely than it was delivered to you).

If you find you need additional help, hire a freelance editor.  The hard part is finding someone you trust, with previous experience and who's reasonable.  Ask for recommendations from other writers you know.  Prices can ranges from a couple of hundred dollars to a couple of thousand.  Make sure you get references before SIGNING ANYTHING.  Know what you want from the editor.  Confirm that you both agree on what constitutes line editing, copy editing, proofing, etc.  Don't be afraid to ask questions.  A freelance editor works for you!

I'll warn you now.  Even when you've had a dozen people read and critique your book, invariably you'll find a typo when you're re-formatting the file for upload.  *grin*


(Editor's note:  Tess brought up a good point about reading your manuscript aloud.  I use the Text-to-Speech function in the Microsoft Reader, which is a free download.)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Controversy and Friendships

Before I get into today's post, I'm going to make a change on the what-I'm-reading header by including the format of the book.  So, drumroll please. . .

Currently reading - Pale Demon by Kim Harrison (HC)

I'm heading off-road for some writer psychological analysis.

The whole e-book vs. print book controversy seems to be taking a weird twist lately.  Someone I know who's traditionally published went on a--well, tirade would be the best word--about the recent changes in the publishing.

On the surface, it sounds as if she's against people diverging from the traditional publishing path, but that's not the case.  She's scared.  Scared that she's made the wrong choices in her career in the face of the recent publishing chaos.  Scared she'll have to start over if her publisher crashes and burns.  Scared she won't have a brick-and-mortar store to sell her books at because her publisher is focusing only on print books.

And this is where being an empath sucks.  The words I hear her saying and the psychic flood crashing into me are two different things.  I've learned from experience when the other person isn't acknowledging her own feelings, me pointing out the discordance will only piss them off more.  But by the same token, I'm not going to roll over and play dead if you're dissing anyone, including me, on a personal level.

Ironically, later on the day of the tirade, I received an e-mail from another published acquaintance.  We'd had some words months ago about whether she should try SF&F.  She was very much against writing SF&F despite that she loved reading it.  In fact, she had lots of reasons not to write SF&F, most of which sounded logical on the surface.

But in reality, her objections were also based in fear.  She'd already lost agents and contracts when the first genre she wrote tanked years ago.  It had taken her a long time to find another agent and break back into publishing, and she did so under another name and a second genre.  She couldn't stand the thought of another uphill battle.

So what was in her e-mail?  Her cover for her new-you guessed it-SF&F novel.

What can you--whether you're trad-published, indie-published or a newbie--take from my experiences?

1)  There is no right, perfect, predictable path to your goals.  Get over it.

2)  Your path is not the same as everyone else's.  Get over it.

3)  You can't tell anyone else what path to follow.  You can try.  They probably won't listen.  See #1.