Friday, November 29, 2013

Black Friday blowout sale for Epertase

Got a kindle or kindle app? Looking for something to read? Check out the biggest blowout sale ever for my fantasy trilogy, The Light of Epertase. For under 3 bucks you can own the entire trilogy for your kindle or for the kindle of someone you love. This is a one day only sale so get it now. http://amzn.to/1iiFFS5 Enjoy




Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Free Death Alarm

That's right. My horror short story collection, Death Alarm, is free for the kindle this week. No strings attached. Just click here and download it to your kindle. It includes three stories as well as a 3-chapter preview of Tamed. Also available as a paperback. Here's the cover by the incredible Steve Murphy:

 
 
Remember to leave me a review. I personally think the story Skelwaller Lane is the best of the three but I'd like to hear your thoughts. Remember to leave a review at Amazon.
 
Synopsis:
 
Death Alarm is Douglas R. Brown's twisted tales of the macabre. In this three-story collection, Douglas explores the devastating depths of mental illness, the evil that burns within men who kill, and angels who aren't always what they seem.

In the title story, Death Alarm, Douglas uses his real-life experiences as a career firefighter to explore the consequences when those who go to the rescue become those most at risk. When pure evil battles the noblest of professions, the blood will flow like water from the very hydrants that firemen use every day.

Following the title story is a psychological tale entitled Janitor. Working the nightshift in a run-down factory, Jeb quickly realizes he may not be alone. What does the man dressed in black want with him? And can Jeb keep his sanity long enough to find out?

Closing out the collection is a brutal story titled Skelwaller Lane where sometimes even the most horrible behavior can be justified if only you listen to how the true story begins.

In addition, Douglas has included an exclusive 3-chapter preview of his break-through novel, Tamed, where werewolves are sold as pets. Recently called, "the Jurassic Park of werewolf stories," Douglas is excited to give you a peek with this free preview.

In the Death Alarm short stories, Douglas grabs you by your arms.

And then he chops them off.
 
Sensitive stomachs need not continue.
 

 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

A Tale of Two Reviews

I imagine authors don't typically like to show brutal reviews of their books but I'm going to show one anyway. I'm going to show you a recent 1-star review for Legends Reborn as well as a 5-star review, because I think it demonstrates the point I'd like to make for this blog. Everyone who has ever put something creative into the world will already know what I'm about to say. Art is created with the best of intentions and whether someone likes that art can go any way imaginable. One person might enjoy short chapters while another person may despise them. One person might like deep character descriptions down to the chipped front tooth, while others quickly scan those long, descriptive paragraphs just to get to the action. If an author spends too much time world building, he/she might be criticized while an author who doesn't build the world enough might be equally trashed by someone else. That's what makes art great. For instance, I watched the movie World War Z this week and loved it. Some of the reviews I've read haven't been so kind.

These opinions can often emote a visceral response. If that response is, "This is the greatest thing ever and I need to tell the world," that's what the artist had hoped for. On the other hand, if the response is, "This is the crappiest piece of crap I've ever read and I need to tell the world," well, you understand how disappointing that would be. I once heard someone a lot smarter than me say, "If you believe the great reviews, then you must believe the bad ones." (That might not be the exact quote but you get the point.) I believe that quote but it doesn't dull the edge of the bad ones.

Let's look at my most recent 1-star shellacking.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Ohio Comic Con 2013

Well, another successful comic con has ended and I'm exhausted. I don't feel this comic con had as much traffic as the last two that I've attended, but I managed to sell 85 books. A little less than previous cons, but still pretty good I'd say. Special thanks to the talented Steve Murphy for all his help.

Continue to see pics from the con.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Lemons into Lemonade

As I begin the re-launch of my books (see my announcement about Rhemalda closing here), one of my first orders of business is changing the covers in my Epertase trilogy a bit. Thanks to Steve Murphy, I couldn't be happier with the results. Here is a look at Epertase covers 2.0.




Next, I will be getting the ebooks up and running so that I can keep the reviews and rankings at Amazon and others. I'm also using this re-launch opportunity to revisit Legends Reborn and tweak it a bit, because I feel my writing has gotten smoother in the years since I wrote it. I'm like George Lucas except that I'm making my trilogy better. (Yes, that was a shot across the "Greedo shoots first" bow.) Legends Reborn won't change much, just some of the flow. I'm also fixing a couple minor inconsistencies that had been missed during the first run.

Short of the covers, I'm not changing A Kingdom's Fall or The Rise of Cridon at all. I'm happy with them. The paperback versions of all my books should be available in a month or so.

As far as Tamed goes, the cover will be identical minus the Rhemalda logo, but I may tweak the interior a bit on it as well. That'll be next week's project. I'm overwhelmed with work, but once it's finished it'll be worth it. Keep an eye on this space for more.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

A New Beginning


I have a bit of news. Not life-or-death news, just disappointing news.

Sometimes a door can close when you’re least expecting it. And when it does, you have to roll with the punches because that’s just how life is. Once a door closes, you have a couple of choices. You can give up and move on, or you can push onward. Sometimes, the door that just closed needed to close in order for the next door to open. I’m hoping this is one of those times. In fact, I consider myself an optimist and, therefore, choose to believe that this is one of those times.

If you follow Rhemalda Publishing or any of the other Rhemalda authors then you probably already know my disappointing news. If not, read on. It is with regret that I relay the announcement from Rhemalda Publishing that they are closing their doors effective October 1st. I am officially a free agent. There are several factors that contributed to this decision by those in power at Rhemalda, but let’s just leave it at this: The publishing industry can be a tough business and the headwinds against small press publishers have grown too strong. In addition, the Internet has made it possible for authors to print their own books with a quality that had previously been reserved only for publishers. Even the big publishers are struggling to compete in today’s environment.

As a company, Rhemalda started their business with the goal of being author friendly at all costs. As far as I’m concerned, they have consistently made good on that goal. Also, Rhemalda set out to release a high-quality product, and if you've read any of their books over the years, I think you'd agree that they have succeeded. In the end, I consider myself fortunate ...

Monday, August 26, 2013

Writing as a Release


I'm a firefighter and paramedic in Columbus, Ohio. I've been in the fire service for twenty years and have seen about everything anyone could imagine. Over time what I see affects me as it would anyone else. Seeing a young man die from gunshot wounds, or an older woman waking up to her husband of fifty years lying dead beside her, or a baby who has been shaken to death would weigh on anyone and I'm no different.

For me, I'm lucky to have a strong support system in family and friends who are there for me if I ever need to talk (which I've relied on often). But seven or eight years ago I discovered something else to help me work through what I routinely see. That something else was writing.



While some people write in journals and diaries, I turned to story-telling which was something I've always felt I had talent for. After a horrible call in which a young boy was

in a serious auto accident, I struggled with how to deal with his death and what I saw that day.

Monday, August 19, 2013

When your Editor Crushes your Soul


This blog is aimed at those of you who enjoy writing.

OK, so you've written your masterpiece. You've spent months, maybe years, tweaking it so there is no way anyone could find fault in even a single word. You've let your friends and proofreaders have the manuscript and go to town on it. It is now perfect.

Or so you think.

Then you send it to an editor. Maybe it's your publisher's editor, or maybe it's an editor you've hired to get your manuscript into tip top shape before starting that long, hard journey to publication. Whatever it is, you're ready for the praise to come flowing into your inbox. All that's left is to sit back and wait for the editor to write you back and say, "This is the best manuscript ever. I didn't even have to get out my figurative red pen." After all, you've looked at the story 100 times and from every possible angle and it's flawless.

As you have experienced if you've been through the process, or will soon experience, it doesn't take long for the inevitable punch in the face to come back from that editor. The red on each page is like blood from your own artery.

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Light at the End- A flash fiction crime story

I recently took part in a fun little interview over at CabinGoddess.com (See it here). In addition to questions about what recipes would fit with the theme of my book (I know, right?), the interviewer also asked me to write an original flash fiction story.
The stipulations were:
1.) No more than 500 words (much more difficult than it sounds because it has to tell a story and build a character while being short and sweet).
2.) Must be in a genre in which I don't currently write.
3.) Must use the prompt "Light."

I chose to write a crime story and I titled it The Light at the End. Here is what I came up with. See what you think.


The Light at the End


Headlights.

Blinding Frank as he fell to his hands and knees. Wet crimson from the bullet wound in his shoulder painted the hard pavement beneath him. The charging car's engine sang a death song across the parking lot. Frank reaches for his ankle.

****

Two minutes, fifty-seven seconds earlier.

Friday. 11:00 PM. Frank and Darryl stood roll call in the dark, police substation parking lot. Their sergeant eyed them with narrow, calculated eyes. "So, what do you think, Darryl?" he asked.

Darryl had been a cocky SOB ever since Frank met him during the police academy years ago and probably for a long time before that. He walked with a king-of-the-school kind of swagger and Frank didn't much like him.

"We have to do it, Sergeant," Darryl answered without missing a beat. "It's gotta be Frank."

Frank's stomach turned.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

A Long Journey


Today is a very cool day.



A little over four years ago Rhemalda Publishing gave me and my writing a chance by contracting me for my fantasy trilogy, The Light of Epertase. At the time, I had book 1 written with big plans for the rest of the series. Though I knew the major plot points for books 2 and 3, that was about it. Everything from what the covers would eventually look like to how the story would ultimately play out was little more than a vague idea in my head. I never dreamed we would be at this day. Today is Epertase 3's birthday. Though the e-versions will be available any day now (it has to go through Amazon's and BN's system) today is officially release day.



Over those last four years, I have worked with some talented people on this trilogy including editors Kara Klotz and Diane Dalton, my aunt Bobbe Ecleberry, my proofreaders and friends, Emmaline and Rhett Hoffmeister, and the talented artist Steve Murphy. This story couldn't have been told without them and I am overwhelmingly grateful for their help.



It seems almost surreal that the story I started many years ago (Rasi was actually created when I was a teenager) is finally finished and has turned out better than I could have ever imagined. I love the story as a whole and I hope you all give it a chance.

 

Aren't they Purdy together?







Monday, June 24, 2013

Blog Tour- Attention Bloggers

With Epertase 3 about to be released on Aug. 1st, Rhemalda is setting up a blog tour. If you are interested in taking part and helping spread the word about Epertase 3 as well as your own blog, sign up today. If you are interested and haven't yet read books 1 and/or 2, great news. Rhemalda will provide 1 or both in order to get you up to speed. Book 3 should not be read without reading 1 and 2 as this is a true trilogy. Epertase is epic fantasy at its most .. uh ... epic-est. Sign up here.





Tuesday, May 28, 2013

My Webbweaver Interview and Chapter Reading of Tamed

Today, I was fortunate enough to be interviewed over at Webbweaver's awesome internet radio show and I had a blast. I was able to choose a chapter of Tamed to read and I picked one that I felt could make you a little squeamish. If you'd like to listen to me stutter and stumble my way through an interview, give this a listen. You will clearly hear why I prefer writing over speaking. I just listened to myself and I cringe for the entire segment. The interview is structured with 5 minutes of ads, part of my interview, chapter reading, and then the rest of my interview.
If you're reading this CK Webb, awesome job and thanks so much for having me on. Everyone should totally check out CK's books here.

Listen to my interview here.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Comic Con Philadelphia, Here I Come



I'm counting the days until Comic Con 2013 in Philadelphia. This will be my first year attending Comic Con outside of Columbus, Ohio and I'm stoked to meet a lot of people while hopefully selling lots of books. Last year's Comic Con in Columbus was highly successful for my book sales and I'm excited to try and repeat that success in Philadelphia. Helping me this year once again will be the fantastic Steve Murphy who will be signing the Epertase covers and maybe putting up some of his other artwork for sale as well. If you are going to be in Philly anytime between May 30 and June 2nd, make sure you come by and say hi to us. We'd love to meet you. Look for the following booth.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Updates and an Opportunity for Writers

I have a few things to share today as it relates to writing. Let me start with a pretty cool opportunity that my publisher is giving writers who are seeking a home for their work. If you're like me, you despise the querying process. You spend weeks and weeks tweaking your query letter while never knowing exactly what an agent or publisher is looking for. Then you research who to send your query letter to. And then you wait weeks, months or longer for a response, sometimes never getting one at all. Well, Rhemalda Publishing is giving you a unique opportunity to skip the querying nightmare for the next two weeks. You see, Rhemalda is asking for a two-sentence hook about your book and from that hook, they will request manuscripts from the ones they find intriguing. Pretty freakin' cool, huh? I wonder if they have any idea of the amount of work they're about to fall into. So, are you looking to be published? Sick of the querying process? Here's your chance to wow a publisher with a simple hook and bypass the querying nightmare altogether. Just make sure your manuscript is finished and in the best possible condition before it gets requested, so you have the best chance at a contract. Go through Rhemalda's FB page or Twitter @Rhemalda. Here is the announcement.

 
Beginning April 2, 2013 Rhemalda Publishing's Emmaline Hoffmeister (Owner) and Diane Dalton (Acquisitions Editor) will be hosting a two-week, two-sentence, query blast. Authors will be invited to post up to two sentences about their completed, polished manuscript. Hook Emmaline and Diane with your awesome, fresh idea and they will then request a full manuscript from you! This is your chance to skip the initial full query letter and seemingly endless wait for a full request. The specific genres Emmaline and Diane will be searching for are as follows:

Contemporary Fiction
Contemporary Young Adult/New Adult Fiction
Romance
Contemporary Romance
Historical Romance
Historical Fiction
Jane Austen Adaptations
Sports Memoirs
Crime/Detective/Procedural
Young Adult Paranormal and Dystopian

Get ready for April 2nd!

Please share with every author you know.
See More
Next on my agenda are the results from my bookbub.com promotion. As of yesterday I have numbers. As you may have read in my last blog, Bookbub is a site that sends emails to readers about sales on books that they may be interested in buying. On Thursday of last week, my werewolf novel, Tamed, went on sale and was sent out in their email. (The sale is still on for another day at Amazon, BN, and iTunes, BTW, in case you've missed out.) Anyway, during the first four days of the sale, 504 ebook copies of Tamed were sold with steady sales continuing as of this writing. If you are an author or publisher, you may want to try bookbub because it has been wildly successful for me. (I have no affiliations with the site, I am only recommending them from my own marketing experience.)

Third, a quick update about my writing progress. Rhemalda has the final book of my Epertase trilogy, The Rise of Cridon, and I am waiting for their editor to hack away at it. I think as a story it has turned out great. In the meantime, I am closing in on finishing a first draft of my newest dystopian fantasy which is turning out to be pretty cool. I'm excited to finish the first draft because that is always my least favorite part of writing. I like the tweaking stage the most. We'll see how things turn out over the next 15,000 or so words. At this point, I'm very hopeful.

Well, that's it for my update today. If you're a writer, get your two sentence hook ready because the two weeks start at midnight (April 2, 2013). And if you even slightly like werewolves, check out Tamed. I doubt you've ever read a werewolf book quite like it.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Big Sale on Tamed


Ever heard of Bookbub.com? It's a site that sends emails to subscribers about big sales on books that are in the reader's preferred genres to read. It's not a spam site because you actually sign up for only the notifications of books you might be interested in reading. Anyway, this isn't an advertisement for bookbub as much as a gratuitous ad for Tamed. With bookbub, an author or publisher applies to have their book featured in Bookbub's email and if they accept, the author and publisher have a chance at a lot of sales. The hope is to sell enough copies that the book's rankings improve and the book continues  to sell after the deal. As of today, Tamed will be featured in their email and is now on sale for . . . wait for it . . . $1.99 for ebook or $11.99 (Amazon) for a super cool paperback edition (remember those?) Heck, Tamed is even on audiobook. This is your chance to try my werewolf tale with a twist for under two bucks. If you enjoy werewolves, or someone in your family enjoys the furry beasts, then I would enthusiastically recommend that you try Tamed. How's that for over-the-top promotion? Here's the back cover copy.

Werewolves are real.

And they make excellent pets.

Owning one of the legendary creatures is the latest fad. The WereHouse insists their werepets are loyal, docile, and 100% safe, but what happens when these gentle giants turn on their masters?

While on a routine EMS call, paramedic Christine Alt is attacked by a rogue werepet. She escapes with her life, but the encounter leaves her with more than just scars. As her body begins to change, she discovers the WereHouse is hiding a terrible secret, and they will stop at nothing to keep her from exposing them.
Check Amazon, Barnes and Noble, the IBookstore, or Kobo for the deal. I mean, what's two bucks for a cool story among friends? Enjoy your reading.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Cover Reveal for Epertase 3


Well, we're moving right along with the final and, might I say, best chapter of my Epertase trilogy. The Rise of Cridon will be released on Aug. 1, 2013 and I am excited today to show off the gorgeous cover by artist Steve Murphy.

Epertase 3 is a bittersweet book for me for a couple of different reasons. Firstly, it is the final book of my current four-book contract with Rhemalda. What that means is that anything I write from here on out will need to be submitted and accepted by some publisher or agent in hopes of receiving another publishing contract. Though I have full intentions of submitting my next work to Rhemalda first (as we have had a great working relationship), there is no guarantee that what I submit will be worthy of acceptance or fit within their plans. To be honest, I don't know if I have the energy to start all over again in search of a publisher, so let's hope what I write next doesn't suck.

Secondly, this book marks the end of my world of Epertase as far as my writing goes. With this release, I will be saying good-bye to Rasi, Alina, Simcane, and the entire cast to move onto something new. These are characters that I have spent countless hours creating and melding and in some cases killing and they hold a special place in my heart. I am a bit saddened to know that I won't be revisiting my Epertasian world anytime soon, if ever, and it's strange to finally say, "good-bye."

But the opposite side of that coin is how exhausted I am with that world. Writing a trilogy is long, hard work. Years and years of work for some people (and yes I am one of those people) and to come to its end is a bit of a relief as well. I am a different writer today than I was when I wrote Epertase 1. I feel I have evolved and improved and I am looking forward to showing you those improvement in new adventures far away from my Epertasian world. I am sooo ready to focus on other worlds and ideas, like I did with Tamed.

But mostly, I am excited for readers of my Epertase trilogy to experience what I believe is a worthy and exciting conclusion to my story. So, here is the cover for The Rise of Cridon, the final book of my Epertase trilogy. I'd love to hear your thoughts.
 
And here is the full cover art for the wrap-around cover.
 
 
 

Friday, February 15, 2013

The Best Thing You Can Do to Support an Author



Books are like trees in a forest. I'll get to why in a second.
 
Most authors aren't privileged enough to be on The Tonight Show or have their books reviewed by the New York Times. No, the majority of authors, and there are a lot of them, rely on a limited budget from their publisher (if they're published) and/or their own promoting skills if they're self-published.

With enough hard work and determination, an author can convince a few hundred people to buy their book. Would you agree? Think about how many people you tried to convince to order candy bars from your kid's school last time. A few friends, neighbors, coworkers, that's about it, right? A hundred people if you were lucky. Authors are trying to do the same thing in a round about way.

Sure, a break here or there might increase sales of a book, but overall it is very difficult. My publisher once told me that the average sales for any book is 97 sales. That average takes into account the best sellers as well as the non-sellers. That's it. Ninety-seven. That's a pretty small number. About the same number as your candy bar sales, huh?

As an author, where do we go now? For authors, their books quickly become trees in a forest. It might very well be the best tree in that forest, but no one's buying because no one knows to even look for it. I've been fortunate to outsell the average, not bad for a nobody fireman such as myself. But, as with every author, I want to sell tens of thousands, not thousands.

So, how do authors get readers to see their books in the forest and then buy them? Can they get on TV to advertise it? It's tough, but the author might get a local news program to throw them a bone. I did, and it boosted sales for a few days, hardly lighting up the world. If you're published, how about using your publisher's resources? Yep, that'll help. Their reach might only be a little farther than yours though and maybe you'll sell another 1000 or more by using that advantage (small press), but that's probably about it. If publishers had more reach, they would be literally printing their own money. After all, when was the last time you've read a Stephen King book and thought, "I need to go see what other books are at DoubleDay?" Maybe, once in awhile, but I doubt often.

Author marketing  requires  the author to rely on luck and perseverance if they hope to sell a lot of books. It is about spreading the word to more than just the seven degrees of Douglas Brown's world. It's going to be difficult to say the least. It IS difficult. I mean, after all, how many trees do you think there are in that forest?

So the goal isn't to have your best friend buy 100 copies of your book (that wouldn't work anyway), it's to get your book seen by the largest number of readers. Whether those readers buy the book after they see it will depend on the quality of the book and whether it's something that interests them, but at least they’ve seen it. I know, I know, maybe my books have been seen and just don't interest anyone. I suppose that's possible, but I doubt it. I once saw a book on Amazon's best seller list that was titled, Everything I know about women (or something to that effect), and every page was blank. Funny? Yes. Good book? Hardly.

After telling you how dense the forest is and how impossible it will be to see an author's particular tree, let me tell you how Amazon helps to weed through that forest.

As a reader, how often do you finish a book that you absolutely love and rush to a computer to tell all of your friends on Facebook or twitter? Occasionally, I'm sure. And thanks, because that helps greatly. Now, how many times do you rush to your computer and write a review for that book? I'd bet rarely. I'll admit it, I don't either.

Here's the funny thing though. Because Amazon is overtaking the book selling world, they need a way to promote books. They need a way to guide you through the forest to a tree that might be right for you. One way they guide you is by sending you emails. As a result, obscure authors now have a chance at lighting up the world. It's still a long shot by every definition of the word, but it can be done.

Forget the Tonight Show and the New York Times, there's no shot at getting featured there for anyone not named Kardashian. Sure, getting that exposure would help incredibly, but it isn't likely without thousands of dollars and the proper connections. Here's the cool part. Amazon's metrics don't know if I'm Douglas Brown the firefighter/author or Honey Boo Boo. Amazon doesn't care either. As books sell, the rankings improve and more people buy the books. If my book was in Amazon's top 100, they wouldn't care who I was. Their automatic algorithms would try to sell my book as much as any other book.

So, the question becomes, "Why doesn't Amazon just push every book to their customers?" Well, simple. If you're a reader, how long would it take before you unsubscribed from their email list if they sent constant emails for every book of their millions and millions of books? Exactly.

That means they have to have a way of choosing the books that they promote. They're not going to choose a book that has no momentum because the gains wouldn't be high enough. How would they even know it wasn't a bunch of garbage that they just pushed on their customers anyway? Well, here's what Amazon has decided. They put their marketing muscle behind books that become hot. In order to decide what has become hot, they rely on their ranking and review system.

Book reviews provide exposure for otherwise unknown authors, so the more reviews, the more exposure, and the more books are sold, which leads to more reviews, more exp... Ok, you get the message. Slowly, the forest falls away and your particular tree is standing where everyone else can see.

Have you ever heard of ARC’s? They are advanced review copies of books. Publishers give them away before the book is released to garner interest in the title. Before ebooks, ARC’s cost a fortune and publishers had to be very picky with who they gave their books to. Ebooks and Amazon have leveled the playing field a bit and have allowed smaller publishers to give away more books in hopes that the beneficiaries of those freebies will leave reviews.

A New York Times review will get people to buy books, there is no doubt, but when The New York Times isn't an option, the only option left is a push through Amazon.

I realize if you know an author, you've heard about his/her book until you're ready to vomit. In fact, I probably have a bunch of vomiting friends right now. I get it. I'm also sure you've purchased their books and have tried to help them in any way possible and I can assure you that it has been greatly appreciated. But I ask you, have you left an Amazon review? You don't have to by any means. I'm just telling you how much that could help.

So, if you're reading this, then I've piqued your interest. Whether you're an author, a friend of an author, or just someone who wants to spread the word about your favorite book, here is the point of this blog. Spend a few minutes writing reviews on Amazon (and Goodreads, if you're a member) for books that you've enjoyed in the past. It doesn't have to be my book, just any book that you've enjoyed.

If you're an author, there are sites that can help you achieve the goal of more reviews. Of course, they can be expensive, as everything seems to be, but they might be worth a look. I’m trying Netgalley.com right now. The idea of NetGalley is that their subscribers are there to find books to review on blogs, Goodreads, Amazon, and wherever else they want to leave reviews. In exchange for their reviews, they get to read books on the site for free. (They can be turned down by the publisher if they aren't established enough as a reviewer, but for little guys like us, I don't see any need to restrict.) Tamed is up on NetGalleyas we speak. I can't tell you whether it has generated any reviews yet, because it's only been up for two days, but I will tell you I am nearing 100 downloads of the book already. BTW, it isn't just reviewers, but librarians, educators, and book sellers as well.

I am hesitantly optimistic, as is my publisher, that this generates a lot of Amazon reviews. I'm currently at 38 reviews before this endeavor began and I'm hoping to hit at least 50 once it's over. You can go to Tamed's Amazon page if you'd like to see if it's working, but I'd suggest waiting at least a couple of weeks in order to give the reviewers time to do their thing. If you are a NetGalley subscriber, feel free to download my book on the top, right of this page or click this link. Just remember, please leave me a review when you're done. ;) Everyone else, what are you waiting for? Get to reviewing. Honest reviews are the best, regardless of how many stars you give. Now get out there and help Tamed stand out from the rest of the trees.

 

 

 

Friday, February 8, 2013

Epic Marketing Fail


Authors, learn from my marketing mistake. To everyone else who has a sadistic thirst to read about my failures, read away. Yeah, that's right. You heard me. If you're reading on and you're not an author, it must mean that you enjoy my pain. OK, I'm just kidding. Enjoy.

We all know you have to be careful in spending your marketing dollars. As I'm about to show you, there is a fine line between thinking outside the box and not being in the right market. If you get it right, the success could be monumental. If you get it wrong, it can waste a lot of money. But hey, high risk, high reward, right? I wish this was a blog telling you about how I thought outside the box and became an Amazon best seller, but alas this isn't that story. Instead, this might be as far from it as one can get.

I decided to try my luck at advertising, Tamed, in a large local radio market. As I did the research, I got a little excited at the possibilities. Sure, radio listeners and book readers don't appear to have a lot in common on the surface, but maybe they are just an untapped market since book marketing has become so stringent in how publishers can spend their money. At least, that's what I told myself. I listen to the radio and I like new books, so there has to be others out there who do as well. Outside the box, remember? Now, hold on before you ask me if I'm an idiot and say, "Everyone knows radio ads won't work for books." That idea was just the beginning of an evolving process. Please, read on.

We all understand that a potential customer taking the step from listening to the radio in their car, hearing an ad for something they'd like to try, and remembering that product long enough to find it on their computer when they get home and buy it is a pretty big step. So, with that in mind, maybe a radio ad wasn't the ideal place for my book.

My evolving idea turned to the radio station's online music feed. Hear me out for a second. This idea puts the product and how to get it into the same place--a single click away. No need for the buyer to remember the ad until he/she gets to a computer because he/she is already there.

Now, let's look at a few of the other potential obstacles. Would a listener of, say, rock music buy a werewolf book aimed at the late teen/young adult population? I'm not talking Twilight, but old-school, ferocious werewolves.  Before you say "no" remember for it to be a successful ad campaign for me it only needs to make my money back and get me some exposure. That's it. That was my entire goal. Make my money back and get my book into readers' hands. Of course, rock stations aren't the same clientele as advertising in a book store, but if the station had enough listeners, even a small percentage of click-throughs would accomplish my goal. Right?

With that idea, I picked out a popular rock station that I myself listen to quite often. The thought behind choosing a rock station was that if my book was a movie, I'm sure the ad would play on this very station because I hear ads for movies like Underworld and currently World War Z on the station all the time. I know there is a big difference between a movie and a book, but again I was thinking outside of the box.

And chewing bubblegum. I'll get to that in a second.

I contacted the marketing department of the station and talked with the salesperson about my idea. Knowing people have to see or hear a product on average of seven times before they actually buy it, I needed to overcome that hurdle with my deal. A single ad just wouldn't cut it. The salesperson agreed. She thought my idea was interesting and worth looking into, though not a common request. Hm. In hindsight, I wonder why. Of course it sounded good to her, she's a salesperson.

I asked her about listenership and was told the online feed had 60,000 unique listeners per month and 120,000-150,000  overall listeners per month (meaning listeners returned.) That sounded very promising. With my low goal in mind,  I only needed less than 1% of the listeners to actually be buyers.

Next, I wanted to know how we could make it easy for interested buyers to purchase my book without a bunch of extra steps. We agreed on having a picture of my book with a link on the screen while my ad played. Getting better, right? Think about it. I now have 60,000-150,000 listeners one click away from trying a $2.99 ebook, a $12.00 print copy, or even a $17.00 audio version.

Let's get back to the-hearing-about-a-product-seven-times thing. How do we hit those listeners with the ad more than seven times? Well, we worked out a deal. And because I have no secrets, here it is. For $250, I purchased 100, 30-second commercials that would be created by the radio station and ran over the course of three weeks. Thirty-three times per week. Now, that's what I'm talking about. I did the math. $250, need to sell about that many books to break even and voila, easy peasy. Even my lowest estimates made it worthwhile, if not entirely profitable. Just think of the exposure. Reviews alone on Amazon sell books because of Amazon's algorithms. BTW, if anyone ever wants to help an author, go review their books. It helps more than you could ever imagine. The reviews don't have to be glowing either, just honest. But that's a whole 'nother blog.

I was sold. The ad was created and the start date was set. I asked my publisher to measure any spike in sales which would be easy because my sales had slowed quite a bit as of late.

The ad began running. And running. And running. For three weeks. And you know what? I sold 100,000 books in that 3 weeks. Alright, now that you've gotten up off the floor, let me tell you the truth. I had a zero bump in sales. That's right. Zero. Zilch. Nada. In fact, just to further kick me in the groin, my sales continued going down during those weeks. Can you say, "major failure?"

You can attribute this marketing failure to many things, I'm sure. Did the ad suck? Was it too vague? Does the book's premise itself suck? (Though, I don't buy that one ;) Can radio listeners even read? *grins*

I actually don't think any one of those are the biggest reason for the failure, even if they played a part. The real reason the ad failed, IMO, was because it wasn't the right market. Duh. That's it. I was selling bubblegum in a denture-maker's market. The bubblegum might have been great, but no one hearing the ad cared. As I said at the beginning--there is a fine line between outside the box and not being the right market.

In hindsight, I'd say it kind of sucks outside of this box. And I gotta sell a lot of bubblegum to make up for that loss. When you get knocked down, I guess you gotta get back up and try again. In fact, I'm getting a new idea. I wonder how people in nursing homes would like my bubblegum ads. There are indeed a lot of old people and my sell-through numbers don't have to be a very high percentage. You know, I think it just might work.

Here's the ad for your amusement.
video
 

Friday, January 4, 2013

Tamed on Audiobook- A Completely New Way to get your Favorite Werepets

A few months ago my publisher, Rhemalda Publishing, revealed that they were putting all of their books into the audiobook format. Over the years people have asked me about audiobooks and, until this announcement by Rhemalda, I'd tell them not to get their hopes up. If you wanted to read Tamed, you had to do just that--read it. I didn't realize there was such a large community of people who preferred hearing stories than reading them. Who knew? Personally, I've always liked audiobooks, but usually just for long vacation drives and those sorts of monotonous things. Anyway, Rhemalda had enlisted various professional freelance narrators for their catalog of books and one was assigned to Tamed. His name is Michael Roger Lane and he does a fantastic job.

Due sometime around Christmas, 2012, that sometime came yesterday and I couldn't be more thrilled. This may sound strange since the audiobook is basically just another format of the same story, but I rank the feeling I'm getting as I listen to my own words being professionally read as one of the top moments in my publishing career. I can't sit here and tell you that this feeling is better than getting my first contract, or seeing my debut book finished for the first time, but I can tell you that this ranks highly with those achievements.

I didn't expect that hearing my book would move me so much, but as it turns out it does. For the first time ever, I am hearing my story told in a different voice than the one in my head and it is an amazingly new experience. As I said before, I've always liked audiobooks because I get a different feel when hearing stories than I do when reading them and this is no different. I'm not saying I like audiobooks better all than reading, because usually I don't, but sometimes it can add to the experience. For instance, I Am Legend by Richard Matheson is creepy as a book, but I think creepier by the brilliant job that the narrator did in the audiobook. On Writing, by Stephen King is another audiobook that I absolutely love listening to and feel it is a better experience than merely the reading of it. That one's probably because Mr. King himself reads On Writing, and I think you get a sense of his passion while hearing him.
You should totally give the audiobook of Tamed a try. You'll love it.
If you want to give Tamed a try on audiobook, it is available at Audible.com, Amazon, and Itunes. Here is the Amazon link. You can even listen to a preview before you buy. Let me know what you think.