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Promotional Stuff, Pets and A Birthday

 

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Today and yesterday were kind of dedicated promotional days. That’s why I didn’t post anything. Sort of busy answering questions and making pitches for Fried Windows, Becoming Thuperman and The Wolfcat Chronicles.

Speaking of the wolfcats, I’m working on Chapter 9, but I’m about 3/4 of the way through a new chapter that I’m writing. It helps tie into the rewrite and also connect the series into Fried Windows a little better than the original version. ¬†Otherwise I’m hanging out with my son’s dog, my grand-dog, as it were. His name is Rocco. I’ve mentioned him before. He’s 105 lbs of American Bulldog and a big baby. He’s sitting beside me as I write this, wondering why I haven’t petted him in the past ten seconds and hoping I’ll take him on a walk so because usually he gets a treat afterwards.

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I read somewhere that most days read the mental maturity of a two or three year old. Rocco is definitely in his terrible twos. He demands attention almost constantly but he does understand a few simple words and phrases. However, he doesn’t like deviating from routine. Like going for a walk. The county has decided to tear up some of the sidewalks,It seems related to whether there is a pin oak tree near to the section. This has interrupted Rocco’s usual path for walking so it confuses and frustrate him when I make him detour around the missing sections or the freshly poured concrete. The county frowns upon dog prints in the fresh new slabs. Apparently they consider that graffiti for which there is some sort of fine if they catch you. Is anyone else getting a mental picture of the local sheriff running through ¬†set of paw prints belonging to known offenders?

Anyway, the promotional stuff went well. I don’t know if I sold any books but I made some friends. Friend may last longer than book promotions, anyway.

I believe I’m still on target to complete Book 10 of The Wolfcat Chronicles before the end of the month. I don’t force any problems yet. The new stuff I’m adding in gives the series a twist or two, and lends a touch of mystery to the last book the series. It’s all good.

20121031075644-1aDid Mary Poppins this year!!

In other news, today is my big sister Joyce’s birthday. In the pictures above she is dressed for Halloween. So, no she doesn’t always dress funny. Anyway, Joyce is nine years my senior and was known to babysit for me when I was like Rocco is now – no, not a dog but a whining pup of sorts and totally dependent. She’s one of those special people you enjoy being around because she savors friendships and loves life. When I’m around her I have to step up my game a bit to say something funny or unusual. She has that effect on me. I try to make her laugh. I always have. And if she doesn’t laugh with me, I’ll accept her laughing at me.

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So, Happy Birthday, big sis.

#birthday #Rocco #FriedWindows #Revisions #TheWolfcatChronicles, #BecomingThuperman #Promotions

 

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What An Author Goes Through

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There are a lot of copies of Fried Windows In A Light White Sauce out there being read. I’m happy about that because that is the primary reason I write. I believe it is the only reason any author goes through the more difficult aspects of the writing and publishing process. The reward at the end of the struggle is reading a review from someone who read the book, enjoyed it and got the point of the story.

As many of you know, for the past few months I have been working on publicity for other authors. At times that has drawn me away from promoting my work. It has also, of necessity, forced me to schedule time to work on my upcoming books. A couple of months ago I started a job that also requires me to budget my time. Sometimes it seems like there are not enough hours in a day but usually there are if you look hard enough. Who need sleep, right?

The reason I write is because I enjoy doing it. I don’t consider creating stories as work. It’s not exactly playtime either. It is an escape into another world that i can control. Perhaps it’s a little like plying a video game except that I generate the scenes and the characters as I go.

Everything after writing the rough draft is the necessary evil of the publication process. The draft needs to be revisited. Once revised, it need to be edited prior to submission to the publisher. Even once it is accepted it need to be edited again, looking for substantive changes (sub-edits) in the story so that the detail coincide – like the main character drives a red Ford early on in the book but it suddenly becomes a blue Chevy in Chapter 11. That would be a substantive edit point..

Sub-edits require the reading of the entire story as any reader would do. Although minor editing points like typos and such may be pointed out in the process, that is not the focus. The purpose is to make a good story arc with the necessary elements of story development and conflict resolution. Sometimes it is determined that chapters need to be rewritten or other chapters added for the sake of building the story. At times entire sections are eliminated altogether – even whole chapters.

Next the book goes through content edits. This is when the typos are picked up. Also grammar, spelling and word choice are scrutinized sentence-by-sentence. Paragraph structure is adjusted. Redundancies are removed along with some sentences that just aren’t necessary for advancing the story. Some characters may disappear or be consolidated into other characters for the sake of eliminating confusion. Names of characters might be changed for the same reason. Entire sections may need to be rewritten. Before the manuscript can be called a book it must conform to accepted standards of style. There is some latitude for author’s voice allowable within he standards, but for the most part this experience is comparable to have an English composition teacher going over an assignment you turned in for credit.

Content editing is an exhaustive process that for the first time transforms a manuscript into a novel. The success of the process depends upon the working relationship between the editor and the author. A good editor improves the story without rewriting it. A good author has a thick enough skin to take the criticism as it is intended, with the purpose of making the book as good as it can be for the overall reading experience. After all a novel is designed for a reader’s appreciation not an author’s ego.

Somewhere between subediting and content editing the cover design process begins. This is a collaborative effort between several people including the artists, the author and a representative of the publisher. Usually the publisher has the final say on the book cover but it is always good if the author is onboard with the choice. Also the author can contribute his or her advice for what scene in the book might constitute a good subject for the cover.

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Part of the cover design is the inclusion of a brief blurb about the book. It tells something about what the story is about but it is also a promotional pitch directed to the potential reader. Although the author usually contributes to the writing of the blurb, it may or may not resemble what the author produced at the outset. It is edited, tweaked, revised and re-tweaked and becomes a marketing element for the book more than a brief statement of what the book is about.

When the cover design is completed it is revealed publicly as one of the initial steps in the promotions process. By then the edits are finished, ARCs (Advance Reader Copies) are produced and distributed for the purpose of book reviews to coincide with the launch. Each review is critical to the success of a book as most readers look at at least some reviews prior to deciding on a purchase – especially when buying a book from an online source.

Once a book has launched the author continues with promotional efforts, attending events, book signing, soliciting interviews and attempting to spread the word through many means in order to entice people to read the book. This is the point in the process with Fried Windows In A Light White Sauce where I am at the moment. Of the entire process, this is the most difficult point for an author. The writer inside wants to write something new. But what is the point of writing a new book if the present book isn’t selling well enough to attract attention to any new book?

Sometimes it is difficult for an author to appreciate that publishing is a business. It provides readers with a product and, hopefully, the author with royalties. But there are many, many steps between the author’s inspiration to write a story and the point at which a reader opens a book and starts to read the story.

I always knew there was a lot of coordination of effort involved in the production and distribution of a book, even before my first trip around the publishing track. But each time I go through the process I am profoundly humbled. Several people worked very hard to produce the quality of product that now bears my name. To think that all this effort came from a somewhat silly idea I came up with a couple of years ago in the quiet corner of my apartment in central Florida.
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#writing #author #editing #publishing #promotions #newreleasebooks

 

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About Launching A Book

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What has happened with the recent launch of Fried Windows is fascinating to the publicist side of my nature. It is not entirely unexpected, but some things have been surprising.

Let’s be honest. The initial response to the launch of Fried Window has been, in a word, underwhelming. As much as an author would like to sell hundreds of books on the first day and reach best seller status for a few moments in the spotlight, those things happen because a lot of factors converge at once. It is a false indication of the book’s overall potential for success. A book is a success because of the connect it makes with the public, not because of how many friends and family member buy it on the first day. So it is dangerous to read too much into a launch day spike – or in my case the absence thereof.

The problem is almost never the book. Everyone who has read Fried Windows in advance has loved it. It has a great, attention-getting cover. Although some friends have told me it is startling and a little over the top the book is unusual. I think the graphic captures that.

FINAL Final Fried Windows Front Cover Only

The problem Fried Windows is having in the market place is the same as every other book from every one of the millions of obscure authors. It is a new book from what the public perceives as a new author. Readers are attracted to brand-name authors. They invest time as well as money in purchasing a new book to read.

My fan base response to Fried Windows has been lukewarm at best. That’s what is disappointing in that I have worked a lot on building relationships with others over the past few years. But I also understand that launching a new book without a lot of fanfare is like throwing a frozen burger patty into a skillet before it’s heated up. At first nothing happens. Heating things up a bit is all that’s necessary but it takes some time. Sounds simple, except it’s not quite as easy as turning a knob on a stove. As is true of nearly everything worth doing, there is a process involved and procedure to follow. The first step of that is finding out why promotional efforts in advance of the launch failed to produce the desired result – sales.

First of all, selling anything via social media alone – as was the case with this book – is difficult. People are online to be social, not transacting business. They tend to ignore direct pitches, especially since they are inundated with them. So despite FB’s claims that you can promote your page for a few dollars a day and gain all sorts of followers through likes, that in itself is not going to sell a book. Also, in the interest of bolstering their own business model, FB has altered their algorithm so that your messages reach perhaps only 7% of your friends. Unless you buy FB services what you post on your page will not reach all your followers. So out of the thousands of people who might have seen my message about a book launch, only a few actually received the message. Each social medium has its limitations. I’m picking on FB because they are the biggest and have most recently been playing games with their programming that counters whatever users may be doing to promote themselves in a social medium.

Let’s face it, people who will buy a book from a relatively unknown author have more than a passing acquaintance. And the mere fact that someone is a friend does not necessarily mean he or she will buy your book. For the moment, let’s set aside the real goal of an author, which is to have others read the book and sing its praises to others through written and posted reviews or spreading the word to their friends. It is a fan base problem.

Growing the number of fans is an evolutionary process. It cannot be rushed because attention and awareness must be cultivated and reinforced throughout your process, otherwise a fan will forget that he or she ever was a fan. The best connections are personalized through memorable events – like book signings or chatting online. Others may be people you know at your day job. They may purchase a book simply because they know you – even if you are not close friends – but usually co-workers will not buy your book unless they know you well. Why should they?

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Since most of my online friends are other authors, I have never expected a great number of sales from those associations. Why would I? Authors are busy hawking their own wares. Some have bought my book, though. Those tend to be people whose books I have read and reviewed and those with whom I have had repeated contact. Again, it is a matter of turning an acquaintance into an fan. With most authors, it comes down to quid pro quo and professional courtesy. I’ll buy your book if you buy mine. I’ll write a review for you if you’ll write a review for me. Sharing blogs with other authors exposes one author to another’s fan base. So it’s worth having other authors as friends as long as the relationship is cultivated beyond mere acquaintance.

What about all those people you knew in school or wherever else? Counting on the support of people you knew in the past is iffy. It will depend on how well you got along in the past and whether your relationship continued or recently resumed. Even then, simply having contact with someone you know doesn’t mean he or she will buy your book. However, if your book becomes popular and you become famous, that dynamic will change dramatically. People you never knew you knew will suddenly claim to have known you well.

The launch of Fried Windows has exceeded any of my previous work. That’s progress and it’s due to building my fan base. Once the interest in the book increases through other promotional efforts, the momentum will build as well. It may take months and the subsequent launches of my other books in order to stir the desired level of interest in Fried Windows but it will happen. The book is that good. Once someone reads it they understand that it is unique in many ways.

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Frankly, I Don’t Understand FREE

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Okay, I get it that FREE is one of the most powerful words in advertising and promotions. It is also one of the most overused. And many times FREE is not really FREE. Fior example, all those FREE membership cards at retailers that give you money back on your purchases. Ain’t nutting’ FREE about that. You get email blasts and text messages with ads, don’t you?

Anyway, I’ve been scratching my head for a while over why anyone would want to give away a book that took him or her years to write? It just doesn’t make sense because, it is both unnecessary and stupid – especially if you’re getting nothing in return. You see, a real promotion always has a purpose. Like the aforementioned FREE frequent shopper rebates. If you give your book away in exchange for reviews or to promote your latest book or as a means of capturing email addresses for future directed promotions, then giving something away makes sense. But what I see happening in the publishing world is a lot of indie authors giving away books hoping that in the process they will gain a fan base. That’s ludicrous.

Here’s why. People who are drawn to the word FREE are bargain hunters. They are not trend setters. They don’t go after the new and shiny. So the chances of ever getting them to buy your next book when it first comes out is pretty low. They are the bottom feeders of the market. They buy everything on clearance. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, but you need to know that is the customer you’re attracting with the word FREE.

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Also, remember that any damned fool can give crap away. It takes no effort at all, really. We recently ran a FREE promotion to test its viability for a good, well written book with an attractive cover. In two days it received over 2600 worldwide downloads.Afterwards a few more books sold and a couple of new reviews appears in the days afterwards. So for the sake of giving away 2600 FREE copies of a great book, the end result was a few real sales and a couple of decent reviews. You be the judge whether it was worth it.

Now, the conventional wisdom of the FREE promotion is that it creates new fans for an unknown authors. Again, remember the sort of customer that is attracted to the word FREE. Granted, you may pick up some long term fans who are attracted to the word FREE because they have never heard of the author and it is a no cost way to test drive a book from that author. But I’m here to tell you, if that accounts for 10% of the action an author gets from a FREE promotion, that’s a lot. You decide if that is a worthwhile objective of the promotion.

For most authors, anything below $2.99 on eBook pricing is a loss leader.Indie authors who have lower production costs associated with their books may be able to eek out some profit at lower prices because they have not invested in professional editing or cover design. But once you factor in the cots of a real cover and a real editor you are realistically looking at a price point between $2.99 and $3.99 just to be able to make a few pennies per copy sold. The higher the production costs, the higher the necessary retail price for a break even point. It’s simple business.

Let’s forget about paperbacks because they have higher fixed costs. No sane person would give them away.

I posted a few days ago about about pricing art. In that article I stated that there are divergence trends in eBooks. Publishers are raising their prices while indies are continuing to drive the average retail price lower. The reason for the disparity is largely FREE and 99 cent promotions. Some of the price pressure comes from programs like Kindle Select. For those who do not understand the program, Amazon offers members of its Select program the ability to choose any Kindle title listed on the program for FREE. Actually it is not truly FREE to the member because he or she has paid an annual membership fee for the privilege. For the author, listing on the Select program requires an exclusive commitment to Amazon for 90 days – meaning you cannot have an eBook version of your novel on sale anywhere else. So, if your book is not on the Select program it has to be priced at FREE to compete. This is inane, though. You see, authors who are on the Select program are compensated for any book downloaded as part of the program. If you price at FREE to compete or even attract fans you lose money while those on the program do not.

I’m not saying you should place your eBook on the Select program. That’s your choice. I’m just explaining why it makes no sense to compete with the special deal through FREE pricing. If you are attempting to attract people away from the Select program for which they have already paid a fee, my first question is why? Those readers joined the Select program because one of the benefits was being able to download new books for FREE. What makes you think they will even look at your book?

Maybe I’m missing something. I could be wrong. there could actually be a valid reason or a FREE promotion for a book other than the few I have stated. I suppose anything is possible. There could be an honest politician somewhere and I do believe int he tooth fairy, Santa and the Easter Bunny. But I’m not inclined to promote my books for anything less that a break even price unless it is for a limited time and for a very good promotional reason. And you shouldn’t either.

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