Archive for May, 2014

You may have heard rumors that the month of May is drawing to a close. Not to alarm anyone, but those rumors are true. So in an attempt to single-handedly turn the American economy around before June rears its admittedly comely head, I’ve decided to slice a dollar off the price of each of my titles at Smashwords. I know it doesn’t sound like much of a deal at first glance, but the team of advanced mathematicians I keep on retainer assures me this equates to 25% to 33% in savings per book. That ain’t bad.

There’s a catch, of course. You have to enter a coupon code at checkout. Here, there be bargains (all prices in US dollars):

A WORLD GONE GRAY COMPLETED DESIGN200x300px A World Gone Gray: Coupon Code CH75P. Now $2.99.

SIGNAL FIRE COMPLETED DESIGN_thumbnail Signal Fire: Coupon Code HQ46C. Now $1.99.

LIKE LIFE ITSELF COMPLETED DESIGN200x300px Like Life Itself: Ten Short Stories: Coupon Code WA28G. Now $1.99.

These coupons are good through June 1, 2014. Now go forth and save!

 

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A WORLD GONE GRAY COMPLETED DESIGN200x300pxSIGNAL FIRE COMPLETED DESIGN_thumbnailLIKE LIFE ITSELF COMPLETED DESIGN200x300px

And no, I refuse to apologize for that pun-tastic ’80s reference of a blog title.

In a fairly recent post, I acknowledged my checkoholism and vowed to take a gander at my book sales but twice monthly. Habitual checking of sales, experts claim, can lead to devastating bouts of self-doubt, depression, and restless legs syndrome. Shockingly enough, I failed in my attempt to rein in my checking. The results were predictable — my barely-there sales made me kick at the dirt, mutter “Aww, shucks,” and officially condemn myself as the worst writer in this universe or any other. How did that influence my writer’s block, you ask? Not positively.

At the risk of perpetuating the (completely true) stereotype of the “tortured writer,” I can read a passage or two from either a work in progress or a work that’s fading in the rear view mirror one day and be proud of the words I’ve wrought. Then I can wake up the next day, skim over the same damn words, and wonder why the hell I even bothered. So I guess I’m my own best and worst critic. Sounds like grounds for forty-eight hours’ worth of involuntary psych evaluations. Gotta protect the public from substandard fiction now, don’t we? But I digress. As per usual.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the loony bin. Last night (technically, this morning) I took a look at the available samples of my books on Amazon and Smashwords for the first time in months. Did I obsess over the minor changes in verbiage and tone 2014 me would have made if he had access to a time machine and could tell 2010 me about them? Hell, yes. Did I think, for the first time in months, that my work is viable (maybe even “good”), and that maybe I’m not completely wasting my time on this writin’ thing? Yes, minus the hell.

And so it goes. I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and I know that one day people will read me. For the first time in a long time, thing’s are lookin’ up!*

*-Opinion subject to change tomorrow when my brain chemistry is completely different.

 

A mere eight years after the first tweet was tweeted, I’m starting to get the hang of Twitter. Sort of. In my defense, I’ve only had an account there for five months, the first three of which were spent wondering what the hell was going on. I’d tweet out links to these here blog posts, an occasional pat on the back to my favorite team, or a shameless promo for one of my books (accompanied by an appropriate hashtag or trending term, of course: No one likes junk mail). Meanwhile, I was constantly following, following, following. Sometimes I was followed back.

The results? Well, I consulted with my social media department (a Yoda figurine equipped with a ten-sided die suspended in Magic 8-Ball goo), and we came to a consensus: Too soon to tell. There’s no way of knowing how an increased Twitter presence has affected the bottom line yet. Check back with me and my favorite Dagobahdian hermit in 2019 or so and we might have some concrete numbers. In the meantime, I recently stumbled across an interesting feature of Twitter’s that had managed to evade my tractor beam since the day I cruised into their galaxy in my heavily-modified Death Star— that little “change” link next to the Trends list.

Like all Luddites, I’m afraid of change. Especially when it’s presented to me in the form of a hyperlink. Earlier this week, however, I mustered all my courage and did the point-and-click thing. Turns out the Trends link isn’t nearly as dangerous as it looks. Seems downright friendly, in fact. It lets you peruse what’s currently popular in a number of major cities in a number of major countries. Since I’m all for expanding the market for my books outside of my immediate family, I thought I’d play around with the Trends settings and see what was what. I’ve previously made impassioned pleas to readers in Australia, Canada, and Germany to check out my books (with mixed results), so why not go truly global? Well, as global as is prudent in the realm of KDP non-Select.

A quick perusal of the Top Ten in nations like Brazil, Mexico, Italy, and France reveals a pleasant surprise for any US-based author looking to ply his or her wares beyond their own borders. My admittedly less-than-scientific research has found that roughly half the trending topics in these countries are expressed in English. As for India, nearly all are in English. Japan? Well, their Trend list reminds me of a David Lynch film — lots of complex and strangely beautiful characters, but I have no idea what’s happening. If I ever master English, I’m going to try Japanese next.

I guess the moral of this story is that, thanks to 1s and 0s,  there’s a great big ol’ world out there at the ends of our fingertips. It would be foolish not to use it to reach out to readers. My lofty goal, given all this wonderful technology? Sell one copy of one of my books in each of the foreign countries Amazon lists them. Timeframe? By November 20th, the day I uploaded my first novel there last year. I’ll let you know how it goes. For now, it’s off to the Twitterverse!

 

 

 

A WORLD GONE GRAY COMPLETED DESIGN200x300pxSIGNAL FIRE COMPLETED DESIGN_thumbnailLIKE LIFE ITSELF COMPLETED DESIGN200x300px

Say that three times fast. Ha! Not as easy as you’d think, is it?

Since I refuse to use the obvious “April is the cruelest month” pun (again), I’ll get straight to the point. April sucked. Okay, it sucked on the sales front. Some of the other fronts were downright Kate Upton-like.

Seven is considered a lucky number in many cultures, but in the admittedly specific culture of my home and its inhabitants (namely, me and the occasional house centipede), seven sales is decidedly unlucky. If memory serves (though I’m trying to forget), April’s  “performance” equals my worst month ever. As much as I’d like to blame Spring Break bacchanalia, solar flares, or Vladimir Putin for the invasion of my sales by mediocrity, I’ve officially waved the white flag and conceded that I’ll never know exactly what persuades a person to plunk their hard-earned cash down on the counter in 2014 and slide it to the cashier in exchange for [insert product of your choice here]. Okay, I’m “Dyno-mite!” enough to know that an exchange of paper money for legal goods hasn’t occurred since Will Smith punched that alien’s face in Independence Day. But still, you get my drift.

I’ve recently joined the 21st century and learned that a social media presence is absolutely key to financial success in today’s world. I know this because social media told me so. But a funny thing happened on the way to the bitcoin bank: Nothing. Literally nothing. This past month (again, my worst [which ain’t sayin’ much]) I put much more effort into online marketing (specifically Smashwords and Twitter) than ever before. The results? A week-long $1-off coupon offer at Smashwords that yielded no sales. On the plus side, I gained around 300 Twitter followers, mostly as a result of following others. A hundred or so tweets advertising my digital wares (targeted unspammingly toward trending topics in my region) resulted in no sales. Lots of looks (according to Smashwords, anyway) but no sales. Sigh.

In all seriousness, I knew the self-publishing author job was dangerous when I took it. I’m actually doing better than I thought I would. As we head into May (is it really May already?), I’m beginning the final editing process for my next release. It’s actually a tweener. I don’t expect much from it, but it’s close to my heart and I think it’ll make a nice addition to the ol’ portfolio before my Summer and Autumn releases are, well, released.