Listen to Pilot Light

Sunday, June 30, 2013

July Book Sale!

During the month of July a number of my ebooks are on sale to make your summer reading more fun--many are half price. This is offer is only through Smashwords, but the good news is that they have about every ebook format available. Just enter the coupon that will be at the top of each book page and enter it for the discount. Then download mobi, epub or even PDF or plain text--whatever floats your boat.

All the links you'll ever need to load your favorite e-reader with discounted books are here:

Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Writer's Conundrum

As a writer, my main love is creating fiction and poetry. As a creator of books, I want to reach readers. As a human who would like to earn a living, I want to sell those books. This is nothing new in my life and nothing that came with the changes that are sweeping through the world of publishing. Dave Farland expressed this beautifully in his blog David Farland’s Daily Kick in the Pants—Waiting to Be Discovered. Here is a short bit (read his blog).
I’m a firm believer that if I “get it right,” if I create a beautiful work, I’ll find an audience. A story that is unique, engrossing, and powerful will attract attention. People will talk about it. If enough people get excited, it will be like a bolt of lightning that electrifies everyone that it touches, and then reaches out to touch others.

So your goal for today is to get it right.

Once you do that, you still have to market your works, let enough people—the right people—know what you’ve done.
For writers, it is the last bit that sucks. But, okay. I am a tough guy and I just need to man up and get 'er done, right?


Fortunately, there is a ton of advice on the web on how to do exactly that. Unfortunately it is often couched in general, rather vague and useless terms.

One writer recently suggested that when you use your five Kindle Select free days (allowed with a 90 day period), you "pick them wisely." Good advice, assuming you know what are wise days for poems that are not topical, for instance. The same writer suggests promoting your book before the free days, so people will know about it. Which is fine, except that the free days are the promotion, which means that you are promoting your promotion (somehow) in the hopes the promotion will work. That leads me to wonder if the wise author should promote the promotion, promoting the promotion (of the free books)? Time well spent, I'd think. Except that somewhere you have to consider that eventually the actually promotion must go on.

Or must it? The returns writers get on the free day promotions are an exceedingly mixed bag. Some writers suggest that they do free days to get reviews. I've heard that you can often get one review for every 1,000 downloads. Hmmm. Of course, I've also been told that having reviews (assuming they are good) will make your promotion more successful. Well, if you are getting reviews, then the point of the free days is what, exactly.

I admit that I get easily confused.

I see writers using promotional services. One well-known one will promote my book as soon as it is successful (in terms of x number of 4-star reviews). Yes, I and I know of a mechanic who will guarantee that he can fix anything as long as nothing is broke. Maybe they can ride off in the sunset together.

Ah, but there are reviewers, people who love books and review them. Did you know that the vast number of them charge for that? I didn't. I used to review books myself. I had reviews in MidWest Review of Books. I did a monthly column online where I reviewed books a couple of short years ago and I was paid, let me think--no I wasn't paid. I got to keep the book. Silly me.

I will be the first to say that all of these obstacles or frustrations (or whatever) are surmountable with the right attitude, plenty of cheeky optimism and some time and cash. I can be cheeky and even optimistic. I can sell something or borrow for the cash. But if I put my time into becoming a social media expert (another routine bit of well-intentioned advice for writers) and build my reader base, then I won't be writing. Even doing this blog means I didn't write a couple of thousand words on the current novel in the works.

So I cancelled my Facebook account. It was meaningless and a time sink (sorry Mark). I still have twitter, but I am not quite sure why, other that it tickles me that I can go to my Amazon author central page and see there, that I tweeted about posting a blog here. It is all appallingly and bizarrely appealingly self referential.

And that leave me down to my minimalist marketing strategy. I am investing in a soap box. (A wooden one, not a cardboard laundry detergent box. This is big time.) Every Sunday I will go to a different park, stand on my soap box, shout something controversial, and when the crowd appears, instead of waiting to be discovered, I will touch them with my book. I will have a print copy in my hand and touch them, thus selling possibly tens of copies of my book.

This innovative strategy will seem a bit retro in this era of flash stuff, of course, but retro is the new leading edge in our self-referential, recycled culture.

Or so I am told.