Thursday, November 20, 2014

An Open Letter to Amazon

Dear Amazon,

These days, if I am to believe what is widely being said about you:
  • The publishing industry is in a free fall, and it is your fault.
  • Any idiot with a laptop can call themselves an author now, because Amazon has made these poor, talentless, hacks believe they are something they’re not.
  • The quality of literature available to readers is plummeting at an alarming rate because Amazon will let anyone publish anything.
  • Indie authors are undermining the credibility of real, published writers.

Give me a break—it couldn’t be farther from the truth. The publishing industry isn’t in a “free fall,” it is in the middle of a revolution which is fostering creativity and free expression the likes of which we have never seen before. The whole discussion that indie authors should not be allowed to be a part of this opportunity is ludicrous because they are heart of it, and yet I’m constantly reading new articles on the way Amazon has negatively impacted the book industry by opening its doors to them.

The people perpetuating this discussion aren’t concerned with declining quality, they’re concerned with declining profits—their profits. Honestly, if indie authors are all hacks, shouldn’t that just make the elite, published authors’ works more valuable in the eyes of the consumer? Please. If indie authors are that much of a taint, publishers and published authors should be saying thank-you for making them look good.

And let’s talk for a minute about what it really means to be a published author. There’s no accreditation process or certification that comes with being published. It’s simply a matter of finding the right person(s) at a publishing house who likes your book well enough to gamble an investment on it in the hopes that other people will like it too. That’s it. Being published does not make you a success, it only means you’ve been endorsed by the establishment—an establishment that has been deciding what is mainstream for a very long time.

So, Amazon, as an indie author who is tired of hearing all the negative talk aimed your way, I would like to say what no one else is: Thank you.

Thank you for being an innovator. Thank you for standing your ground and supporting me. Yes, I know you’re a business and I recognize that by supporting me you’re also supporting yourself, but that just makes our arrangement that much sweeter because I know you’re vested in me. My success is your success. The fact that you make money from my efforts? That doesn’t make you evil. Again, you’re a business and businesses exist for the purpose of turning a profit. You’ve provided access to an audience I could never reach on my own, and I’m happy to pay for it.

But it’s not just the money, Amazon. You’ve also changed my life for the better in other, more permanent ways:
  • You’ve allowed me to achieve a life-long dream, one I thought could never happen. I can never express the extent of the joy and satisfaction that comes with that.
  • Through the sales of my books and subsequent praise from my readers, you’ve given me a degree of confidence in myself I hadn’t previously felt.
  • Because I know my writing will be available to the entire world, you’ve forced me to look more honestly into my own soul and pull deep from my life experiences when I write, fostering greater self-recognition.

You almost certainly never set out to do these things for me, but they happened just the same.

You will probably never read this letter, which means you will probably never know how your stance on indie authors has had such a positive impact on my life.

That’s okay, Amazon. I just wanted to publicly say thank you, especially in light of the fact that no one else seems willing to.

-Matthew Keith

Saturday, November 8, 2014

It's been a crazy couple of months around the Matthew Keith homestead.

I've talked about my kids and their involvement in college and high school band, so it should be no surprise when I say that my excuse for slacking so badly on this blog is a result of marching season being in full-swing.

One more competition. Just one more and then it's over. The Big One. Bands of America Grand National Championships in Indianapolis. It's a strange feeling every year. As a parent who donates a lot of time to helping build props and getting the band safely to the shows and on the fields, I'm always anxious to have the season done. It gobbles up all of my spare time and then some. I lose sleep. My sore back gets... sorer? Is that a word? Is that a thing? I'm using it, I don't care.

But now at the end of the season, knowing we're just a few days away from it being over, I get a little sad. I like the guys I work with at the school, we've forged some good friendships. I like the kids in the band. There are over 200 of them, but I feel like I can confidently say almost all of them are good eggs.

Man, I must be getting old if I feel that way about band. Hah!

The good news is I'll be able to get back to writing at my regular pace again. I'm a little over half-way through my newest book, but it has stalled the past two months because I've been so exhausted. Not only has marching band been kicking my ass, but we're going through our busy season at work too. For me, my life has been non-stop go-go-go for about three months. I'm overdue and ready to take a breath and I can think of no better way than sitting down at the keyboard and writing.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

"Less" Can Be Worth a Lot More

Me? I’m a Yank—a Northerner. I couldn’t deny it even if I wanted to. I may live in Kentucky, but my northern roots are obvious to anyone I meet. There’s no “W” in my “Hot Dog” and only one “R” in my “Water.” For anyone who doesn’t understand what I mean by that—you really need to come south.

I was born in Pontiac, Michigan. I lived most of my life about an hour west of Detroit. About nine years ago I brought my family to Kentucky to open a business and let me tell you, I had that Northern mentality in spades: I was all about money and efficiency and expanding opportunities. I didn’t come south to make friends or start a new life—none of that was on my radar. I was here to make money.

So as soon as I got here I threw myself into my new business, barreling through sixteen hour days, seven days a week. The first week the store was open, I made more money than I ever dreamed possible. The next week was even better.

But then sales started creeping downward, and by the fifth week the business was in a free fall. By the end of my second month, I was making less than I had ever dreamed possible—and I couldn’t understand why. I wasn’t new to the kind of business I’d opened, and had been successful for over a decade in Michigan doing exactly the same thing. I’d done everything right, I was sure of it.

I spent six years trying to make it work, but ultimately I failed and three years ago I closed the doors for good. It tore me up. It was everything I’d worked toward, it was my identity, and its failure equated to my failure.

I went a little nuts for a while, I know I did, because failure was something I didn’t think could happen to me and not having money scared the hell out of me.

I’d uprooted my family, and for what? Moms, Dads, brothers, sisters—they were all at least two states away. There we were, in a foreign land with no real anchor.  And don’t even think about arguing the idea that Michigan and Kentucky aren’t that different, not unless you have a couple months for me to tell you why you’re wrong.

Four years of my life, wasted. That’s what I thought, anyway.

But let me tell you some of the things that happened in those six years that had nothing to do with the business. In fact, let me start with the day I arrived in Kentucky.

First stop, I pulled the Uhaul into a gas station in Elizabethtown. I filled it up, went inside, and when the clerk behind the counter said, “Hi there! How you doing today?” I nearly jumped out of my skin. See, where I come from you’re lucky if the guy behind the counter even looks up, let alone says hello. I stammered out a shocked reply—nervous, actually. I didn’t know this guy. Did he want something from me? Why was he talking to me?? I practically ran out that gas station.

From there, I drove the Uhaul to my new home where a half dozen members of the local fire department were waiting to help me unload. Now, I know this sounds all Andy Griffith, but it’s the honest-to-God truth. I didn’t know those guys, not then anyway, but there they were: welcoming me to their community in the most genuine and honest way I could imagine.

I made friends of most of those firemen, and they introduced to more of their friends. In less than a year, I had a larger base of people I could rely on than I’d ever had in my life and I know, without a doubt, that if it weren’t for those guys I couldn’t have made it through that first year after shutting down the store.

My kids flourished in their new schools, which hadn’t been happening in Michigan. In addition to strong academics, they both became heavily involved in the amazing music program that’s such a staple in this area, which has fostered too many positives for me to list.

Everywhere we turned, my family and I were supported and because of that, I’ve grown to understand what really matters. Maybe that’s why I primarily write young adult. I may be over 40, but I’m still ‘coming of age’ in a lot of ways.

Three years have passed since I shut that business down, and I won’t lie—I miss it all the time. But the real truth I’ve realized from having been knocked on my butt is the value of the people who made me feel like I was still worth every penny.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

How High School Marching Band Changed my Life... at Age 40

I was never very involved in high school. I didn’t play sports, and I wasn’t in any clubs. The final bell rang at 2:40pm—if I wasn’t already a mile down the road by 2:45, it was because I was serving detention. For me, “being involved” equated to conforming, or giving in, or… something. What it was I would have been giving in to, I have no idea now and I’m not sure I knew back then.

I’m married now, with two teenage children. Both of them are hopeless band nerds, and believe me when I say there is no way for me to fully express the unabashed pride and affection I feel when I make that statement.

But I didn’t always feel that way. Band, especially marching band, is an enormous time commitment for students. Because it is for them, it is for their parents too. The rehearsal schedule is filled with long, grueling, twelve-hour days spent on a blacktop in 90 degree weather. Most days, rehearsals run even longer than they’re scheduled. Competitions, especially the out-of-state ones, can result in the band not arriving back home until 3 or 4 in the morning.

For the parents, having a kid in marching band can be inconvenient and annoying. It can make or break weekend plans, and even cancel vacations. For a guy like me, the whole program seemed ridiculous and too much.

Now, I want to be clear: when I say my kids are hopeless band nerds, I’m not saying that marching band is a hobby they enjoy, not even close. They love it with an unquenchable passion, and it was that way from their first day of rookie band camp. So even in the beginning, it was hard for me to speak out against it… as much I may have wanted to.

My daughter is my older child. Her first year with the band, I didn’t really pay a lot of attention. I worked a lot—night hours, which are a staple when you own a pizzeria—and my wife handled most of the picking-up and dropping-off duties. Honestly, I didn’t think my daughter would stick with it, but she did. It became so important to her that when her second year rolled around, I agreed to begin fundraising for the band through my pizzeria. As a result, I began spending some time at the school.

Let me tell you—I was blown away, completely and immediately. It could be 8:00pm and there would still be 200+ kids at the school, still working hard. And they were happy to be there! My wife scoffs every time I say it, but I still can’t help marveling at the idea that there is a whole other world, a ‘school after school’, that I never knew about.

I began to start coming early to pick up my daughter (and eventually my son too, who joined the band in his last year of middle school), just so I could watch them rehearse. I marveled at their attention to detail, their unrelenting spirit, and the pride with which they carried themselves. Even after 12 hours in the hot sun they still gave it their all, and they loved every minute of it.

My son and daughter, they looked so alive, so proud, especially during performances—something that would have terrified me when I was in high school.

It made me realize there was a major component of my life missing, one that had never been there before simply because I’d never had the courage to commit to doing something I love. Work and money had always seemed too important—an excuse. But there my kids were, doing both what they had to do (regular school) as well what they loved. They’d committed. Fearlessly.

And so in November of 2011, I wrote the opening line to my first novel. It wasn’t ready for publication until April of 2013—work kept getting in the way, family and friends kept getting in the way, life kept getting in the way—but I stuck with it. I stayed committed. If my kids could do it, I could do it.

That novel has found its way onto more than 50,000 Ereaders. My next four novels have already sold thousands of copies. I get fan mail. I have an enormous subscriber list that gets bigger every day.

Courage, conviction, and commitment to a passion were all it took, and I never would have learned that lesson if not for my kids and, of all things, high school marching band… at age 40.

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Thursday, August 14, 2014

My Advertising Strategy Part II

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Last post I talked about the basics of my strategy: have a series, make the first book free, and "overkill" a consistent message.

This is the post I will talk about where I advertise, which is really the meat and potatoes of what I do.

When I first began writing and learned that there were companies out there selling something as basic as a single tweet (to thousands of followers), Facebook posts (again, to thousands of followers--or friends, in the case of Facebook), or an email sent out to a list, I scoffed. It was absurd to me to think that people would pay enough attention to that kind of advertising that it could make any significant impact in sales for an author like me.

I've had experience with email marketing and social media advertising in the past (through my regular job) and none of them worked. Why would I ever consider paying good money for something I'd already tried before that didn't work?

Well, let me tell you--Twitter and Facebook may not yield high results, but email marketing, for books, absolutely does. If you're an author struggling to get yourself noticed, this is the road for you to take. Now, there are a lot of companies out there that provide this service. All of them, bar none, will promise to deliver amazing results. Unfortunately, you don't get to put that to the test until you've already paid them.

This is the post where you learn which ones work, and which don't. This is the post that will save you a lot of time and money. Now--keep in mind as you read this: some of the sites I list here that didn't work for me might work for you. Maybe I'm the wrong genre for the majority of their mailing list. Maybe the size of their list has grown significantly since the last time I used them. Try them if you like. Actually, I encourage it, and would love to hear back from you if you have positive results.

I can only tell you my experiences, and let you make the decision from there.

As I said in the last post, I go on a six-month rotation. Most sites regulate how often you can advertise a book with them. Most will allow an author to advertise different books once per month (meaning if you have multiple titles, you can advertise a different book once a month). But if you want to advertise the same book over and over, the waiting period is usually longer. Keeping in mind (from my last post) that I only spend money on advertising my free book, I'm forced to go with the max amount of time between postings. That's fine with me. I want to give the mailing list time to grow between mailings. I don't want my book to become the equivalent of 'spam' when their mailer goes out. Six months, to me, seems like an acceptable period of time to satisfy those requirements.

I follow the 15 Day Rule: I try and have something go out every 15 days. I want people to see my book, my name, and my graphics as often as possible, and in as many places as possible: brand recognition. By doing that, I establish trust in my product, because the more often someone sees a name or logo, the more likely they are to believe it is legit. I am legit, and I'm not afraid to shout it from the rooftops.

There are only 3 companies that yield strong enough results that I don't worry about following up 15 days later. For those, I wait 30 days. For the sake of an easy example, I'm going to start the list on January 1, although that isn't necessarily a date I use.

My rotation, the cost for each, and the results (for me) are as follows:

  • January 1: ($130 for a Scifi Listing) Last run, 15,239 downloads on the day of the ad  *Bookbub is by far the best of any ad site. I skip 30 days for this one
  • February 1: ($0, for now. They will soon charge for free listings) Last run, 376 downloads on the day of the ad
  • February 15: ($5) Last run, 487 downloads on the day of the ad
  • March 1: ($0--free books are free listings) Last run, 1522 downloads on the day of the ad *2nd best results I've ever had, I skip 30 days for this one
  • April 1: ($50) Last run, 538 downloads on the day of the ad
  • April 15: ($8 premium) 155 downloads on the day of the ad
  • May 1: ($25) Last run, 423 download on the day of the ad
  • May 15: ($5) Last run, 128 downloads on the day of the ad
  • June 1: ($50) Last run, 667 downloads on the day of the ad *3rd best results, I skip 30 days for this one
  • *repeat beginning July 1
As you can see, you don't always get what you pay for. High cost does not always equate to the highest yield in sales, but these sites are the ones that have given me the best results. I can tell you this: I'm averaging over $1,500 per month in sales, and I'm spending $510 a year in advertising. It's a no-brainer.

Bookbub is the site that will "make you," but recognize that they are choosy. They decline 90% of their submissions. It took me 7 attempts (once a month) to get approved for an ad, but it was worth it. If they decline you, don't give up. Set a reminder for yourself and submit again 30 days later per their policy. Persistence will pay off.

Now for the ugly: the sites that didn't yield results for me.
  • ads: don't do it. I put $50 in their fund, have changed the layout and wording of my ad dozens of times, and have had no results.
  • Google Adwords: you pay per click. If someone clicks on your ad, it costs you. But that doesn't guarantee a sale. I did them for six months, spent over $300, never saw any increase in sales.
  • Hotzippy ( and Very professional site. It gives you confidence just looking at it, but I saw no increase in downloads. $30.
  • I really like this site, and I really like the owner, Vinny, but it didn't help sales. It was only $10 though, so maybe worth a try again in the future.
  • no spike in sales, not even a blip. $15.
  • Spent $50 for the ad and actually saw a decrease in sales on the day it went out.
There are other sites that advertise books, many of them. I realize I haven't listed them all, but these are the ones I've used. I welcome comments, insight, or experiences from other authors that aren't the same as mine for comparison, especially with regard to sites I haven't mentioned.

I know how hard it is to find good advertising in this business. I know it can feel like every other author out there is in direct competition with you, and yes--they are, to some degree. But the great thing about books is that it isn't like "Big Mac" vs "The Whopper". Readers will try both, and if both products are good they'll come back for more from both authors. So for me, I'm happy to share the way I operate with other writers.

I hope I've been helpful.

Are you a fan? For new releases and author news, you can sign up for my mailing list HERE.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

My Advertising Strategy
Are you a fan? Have you signed up for my mailing list? If not, please take a moment to do so. I send out very few emails, I will not spam you. The list is only used for Big News items such as new releases. You can find it on the right side of the screen.

I'm going to break this up into two posts. Today's will break down the way I advertise and why. The next one will be a list of all the advertisers I don't use as well as the ones I do use, and how often.

For any author who has been in the business for a while, there are no smoking guns here. For those of you with marketing degrees or backgrounds in the field, no revelations. Some of the way I advertise is Marketing 101, some not. Some I'm still learning. In no way would I call my strategy "The Way to Do It" -- but it is the way I do it, and I promised I would share it.

There are three main facets to my advertising strategy:
  1. Have a series to work with.
  2. Be willing to give the first one away.
  3. Be consistent. "Overkill" the message.
Some authors will never have a series, I know that. It's just not the way they write, and not what they want to do, and of course that's fine. For my strategy, though, I feel I need a series or it wouldn't work. Currently, I have five books on Amazon. Four of them are part of the same series. 

Important fact, here:
  • I sell no less than 500 of the second, third, and fourth books in the series every month. 
  • I sell no more than 20 (per month) of the one that is not part of the series.
My horror book, Sway, which I feel is one of (if not the) best of my books, barely sells. But the others do very well.

The first book in my series is my flagship, it is the rock upon which my entire campaign rests. I only pay to advertise it. Not a single other one of my books gets a nickel thrown at them.

And it's free. Not $0.99, but absolutely FREE. "Try-it-before-you-buy-it." I know a lot of other Indie authors use this strategy, too. The reason is because it works. By doing this, I believe I'm sending a message that says I'm confident in my work, confident readers will enjoy it. So confident, in fact, that I'm willing give away something I spent 21 months working on to prove it.

Now, I know there are a lot of readers out there who will download any book that's free just because they can. In fact, I have found that to be true of the majority of people who download the free version. I also know that there are many who won't like my book. Hey, that's okay. I don't like McDonalds much, but they're doing just fine without my $1. My stories won't be everyone's cup of sweet tea, and I know it. In fact:
  • In FREE downloads vs. purchases of the other three in my series, My ROI is only 5.57%
Sounds awful, right? It's not. As of 7/31/14 I've had my first (free) book downloaded 43,511 times. Now, again... that sounds awful, right? Well, it's not. Because those downloads occurred in a short, three month span. Do the math. Compared to "pre-free" times, before I made Book 1 free, (basically, any time before 5/1/14) I'm rolling in sales. 

Now, don't get me wrong. "Rolling in sales" is a relative term. I did say compared to pre-free times. I still have a day job out of necessity. But in the three months since I began operating in this way I can see light at the end of the tunnel, and it's not a train. All I have to do is write three times as many books as I have now, have them all part of a series, and I can write full-time. Ten more books. Last year I churned out four. Not sure if I can keep that up, because I'm really burning the candle at both ends, but if I can I'll be a very happy camper. And honestly, two years of hard work in exchange for who-know-many-more of doing what I love... SOLD.

So--I have a series, I give the first book away free, and then finally I make sure I'm consistent in the message I deliver. In my case, the message is, "Hey! I have this series, and the first book is FREE" Pretty straight-forward, right? It is, but it's the easiest part of the strategy to let slip, and is just as important, probably more important, than the other two facets of my strategy.

I advertise through various book selling sites and blogs roughly once every 15 days. I say "roughly" because there are two that provide pretty amazing results and I don't need to follow their ad so soon after, they sustain themselves for over 30 days. I work off a six-month rotation using ad sites that have yielded positive results in the past. It took a while to get that rotation set in stone--a lot of sites out there promise great results but don't deliver, and I think I've probably tried the majority of them. In the next post, you'll have the benefit of being able to avoid my failures, because I'm going to list all the sites I've advertised with that didn't work.

So that's it. That's my strategy in its simplest form. Sure, I post on Facebook and Twitter now and then, I post on this blog, and I send out New Release emails to my subscriber list, but that's just when I need a break from writing. Nothing to it, right? No smoking gun, I know.

So how come every Indie author doesn't do it? They should, because it works.

Questions/Points to be Made?
Let try and address a few I know will come up.

"This is all great, but I don't have a series." Even for those who don't have a series but have numerous books all in the same genre, I believe this could work. Choose the book that best represents your work and make it free.

"I just can't stomach giving away something I worked so hard on." How much are you making now? A little? Nothing? Wouldn't you rather make a lot more? I was selling less than 15 books a month before I incorporated this strategy. And part two to that: why did you write your book, if not for it to be read? Isn't that, really, the greatest gift to any author? To have fans who appreciate your words?

"I don't have multiple titles." Then why are you wasting your time browsing blog posts for get-rich-quick schemes? It's not going to happen. Get back to writing and come back here when you have more titles.

"I can't afford the ads." Let me tell you: you may have a bestseller sitting on Amazon right now, but no one is ever going to know about it if you don't advertise, and advertise often. You can't afford not to advertise. Social media isn't a complete waste of time, but it's damn near. 

"Matthew... over 40,000 people have downloaded your free book. Don't you think you've peaked? How many more people are there?" I write young adult science fiction. Hunger Games (just the first book) has sold 28 million copies. That means I've reached 0.1% of my potential audience so far, and mine's free. I'll happily keep plugging away.

"Okay, okay. So what companies do you advertise with?" I'll get to that in the next post. Maybe tomorrow, probably more like the middle of the week, because I've got some writing to do.

Friday, August 8, 2014

I'm out of state for work this week, and it's very quiet where I'm staying. My first meeting of the day got canceled, so I figure what better way to spend the free time than saying hello.

The final ad I was waiting for went out yesterday with disappointing results, but it did go out and I'll be sharing my strategy and results sometime in the next few days. I hope that I'll be able to lend some advice that will help other Indies.

Tomorrow is DCI Finals (Drum Corp Int'l) in Indianapolis. It's like the Superbowl for my band-nerd kids, so we're heading there to watch as the greatest marching bands in the world battle it out for the number one spot. I've never been to a DCI Finals performance, so it should be very exciting. I'm certain the music and showmanship will be off the charts.

Camping was... okay. LOL. It was hot, I sweat a lot. I fished a bunch, caught three fish smaller than my hand. Ate food laced with flies and dirt. It was grrrrreat. Honestly, I could probably do camping a little better if it was a little colder, but anything near 90 degrees or more and I'm pretty much miserable. I don't like to smell. Call me a wanker, whatever, it is what it is. This is why I need to live in the mountains.

Working on rewrites already with Shimmer. It's coming along so good, I can't begin to explain how excited I am for this new series. It'll still be months before it's published, but the flow is so good... loving it, absolutely loving it.

I hope you're all doing something fun this weekend. If you're not, summers going to be over before you know it... better get out there. Maybe go CAMPING.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Going camping this weekend. I'm really not much of a camper. Not sure how that happened, I used to love going when I was younger. We even have a pop-up now, so I won't be sleeping on the ground or anything, but still... guess I'm either getting old, lazy, or just plain cranky. Seems like a whole lot of work when you're supposed to be relaxing. Give me a room with a fireplace and a view (and A/C!!!) and I'm a much happier camper.

I know I mentioned posting my advertising strategy a few posts back. A few of you have emailed asking when. I will, I promise. I'm waiting for one more ad to go out on August 7th, and then I'll post. It's the last in a series of ads with new companies I've been trying out.

Today is my big brother's birthday. A big HAPPY BIRTHDAY to you, Joe! He's out in Las Vegas, so I'm sure he'll find something fun to do on a birthday night in Vegas that happens to fall on a Friday!

I'm nearly finished with a book coauthored by Debra L Martin and David W Small: Witch's Curse. It's a fantasy, which is usually not what I read, but this book is GOOD. It's the second in a series, but could easily be read on its own. I'd recommend it to anyone. First book in the series, Assassin's Curse, is only $0.99 right now. I have it perma-linked on the right side of this page.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Ever had poison ivy on your fingers? Between your fingers? It sucks!

I woke up a couple mornings ago with one swollen eyelid thinking I had pink eye. And even though the doctor thought so, too--nope. Poison ivy. Dammit. LOL. I should've known... not-so-coincidentally, it was the morning after I'd weed-eated the yard.

So Dreampire is out and I'm already focusing hard on the next project. It's the one I mentioned toward the end of June, Shimmer, the first book in a new series that fits the same genre as the Watchers novels, but has a completely separate story line. So far it's been going well, so well in fact that it feels like the book is writing itself.

For any of you wondering why I'm not diving straight into the next Watchers novel, I promise I'll be doing that right after I write Shimmer. I feel like I need some time to flesh out the plot a little more. Dreampire was good, but it has introduced new characters, new concepts, new relationships... I want to be sure I use everything in my arsenal, and I want to use it well.

Friday, July 25, 2014

How about that: ahead of schedule, even.
Dreampire is now available on Amazon.
BN, Kobo, Sony, and iTunes to follow within the next 5 days.

For anyone who enjoys the Watchers series, this is a great new installment that does a fabulous job setting the stage for the next two books to come.

I hope you enjoy it!

Monday, July 21, 2014

So who's way over due for a blog post? This guy. I know.

Ever since I got the edits back for Dreampire, I've been hard at it. Lots going on in the "real world," too, and it has kept me going nonstop.

10 days to hit my target for publication. It'll be tight. Right now I'd say getting it done by the 31st is a definite maybe. Best I can do.

On a positive note, I did have a really good time on Saturday night playing music with the guys. We started in on "Jesus of Suburbia" by Green Day, which is kind of an ambitious song. Not a lot of really difficult stuff in there, but that's the magic of Green Day if you ask me: they take really simple riffs and play them so clean and perfect, it comes out sounding amazing. Plus the song is over nine minutes long. Lots to learn. But a FUN addition to the playlist.

Inventory for 12 stores, two ad layouts, a sales analysis, and then I'll be back at it. I know many of you are waiting for Dreampire, and I will absolutely strive to get it out as soon as I'm able.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Well... I got the first round of edits back, and there's a whole lot 'o' red. As I anticipated, I suppose. It's always tough to have whole chunks of your book deemed unnecessary. I know it doesn't mean the writing was poor or anything, it just means the information in those parts didn't serve the overall purpose, or went against something else in the book, or was redundant, or...

It's like this every time a book gets to this stage, and I'm used to it, but I always struggle with removing anything because some of the parts my editor tells me to dump are near and dear to my heart. I (almost) always end up caving in, because she's always so frustratingly right, but still... any author reading this knows exactly what I mean.

I still think I'll be on track to hit "publish" by the end of the month. I have 8 chapters edited, there are 26 total. I think I can do it... lol. If not, then it'll be very early August. Hey- the wait only makes it that much sweeter, right?

I'm sitting here waiting for all the sales reports to come in from the pizza stores tonight, and it naturally led me to thinking about book sales. For the last hour or so, I've been browsing blogs and forums for information on sales results from using Bookbub and Bookgorilla. I wanted to compare my own results to those of others, but I'm finding that hard to do because if you aren't comparing similar genres, especially on Bookbub, then you aren't comparing apples to apples. Sure, a book is a book, but there are a whole lot more "Thriller" readers on Bookbub than there are "SciFi" readers. Like- a LOT, lot more. I'll have to do some more digging to come up with any real solid numbers. As for Bookgorilla, I have an ad going out on the 22nd of this month with them, and was curious to see how they do for others, but most of the information I'm finding is a year old or more. I've done $0.99 ads with them before, and they weren't terribly effective, so I'm curious to see if promoting FREE with them will do any better.

I was thinking about posting tonight with a breakdown of how I've done since my Bookbub promo, but I think I'll wait until after the Bookgorilla promo is done and compare the two, as well as a few others. I know most authors appreciate the information (I know I do!) and I don't mind sharing, especially if it helps other authors who are trying to figure it out like me.

Oh- hey! Got a new car today. Ford Focus. I'm a little ashamed to admit it... I've gone from over a decade of driving pick-up trucks, to 7 years of SUVs, to 2 years in an Impala, and now a Focus. Am I shrinking? I don't think so, because the Focus still seems like a really small car from the outside looking in. I had to do it, though. I put 3,000 miles a month on my vehicle. The Impala was only 3 years old and it had 113k already. It was on borrowed time. For fuel economy and comfort, it'll be hard to beat the Focus. It's a lot roomier inside than I ever would have expected and it has a lot of bells and whistles like Sirius radio and the hands-free link to my phone.

I sound like a commercial, don't I?

Maybe I'm just trying to justify buying such a small car. It's black- does that put my Man Card back in my wallet?

No, I know it doesn't.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

4th of July for this guy was pretty tame. In fact, I didn't even watch any fireworks. I drove home from Michigan yesterday, so by the time I put my bags down in Kentucky I was pretty tired and didn't feel like doing anything except stare at the inside of my eyelids.

Tonight, though--I have a house full of company coming over. We have a little over an acre and it's perfect for lighting off fireworks, a bonfire, and entertaining friends. Everyone is supposed to bring a dish to pass, and I LOVE that because my friends all make really good food. We'll have cornhole (for all my European fans, you might want to look that up... it probably isn't what it sounds like to you!) cards, two pools, a pool table, and we may even fire up the guitars if we're feeling like we need to make some noise.

I still haven't gotten the edited manuscript for Dreampire, but I am anxiously awaiting its arrival. In the meantime, I've really begun to get in deep with the characters in Shimmer. A couple weeks ago, I started writing it at turbo-speed simply because I had such a clear idea of the story itself, and it got roughed in quick. But now I'm looping back and -wow- I really like the characters in this one. This book is at the stage where it gets really exciting for me, because it's when I become emotionally invested with the people in it. A story is just a story until that happens... I just love it when it moves to this next level.

I hope everyone had a much more exciting 4th than I did, and I hope the rest of your weekend is amazing!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Another day, another 4,000 words. Wish I could get more done, but this darn "work" thing keeps getting in the way. That, and arthritis. Hopefully after Thursday, I'll be one step closer to dealing with the arthritis issue. Turns out I have something called "Dupuytren's contracture," something that makes your hand slowly and permanently close over time. I'm told I can get injections to dissolve the protein (?) building up on the tendons in my hand... let's hope that happens. After an hour or two of typing, my hand really starts to smart. I'll take a few minutes of extreme pain from a shot if it means I'll get a month or two of peace and fast typing again!

Still waiting for the Dreampire edits. Got a note from my editor last week, she said she's hard at it. I expect to get something from her by the end of the month. It'll be tight, but I believe I can still produce a finished product sometime in July. Oh, and as promised--the cover for Dreampire. Understated, a little spooky, and plenty of orange. I like it!

I now have three other projects in the works.

  • One is the next in line for the Watchers (a followup to Dreampire). 
  • Another is a story about a guy who makes a deal to change his life, never realizing that he's paying with his soul. It's a little cliche and kind of cheesy, but I like the main character and the layout of the whole thing... so I'm going with it, cheese or no cheese. I'm tentatively naming it The Devil's Due
  • The last one I'm working on is going to be spectacular--absolutely epic. It's a story about a young man whose father disappears after perfecting the technology for teleportation. It has government intrigue, romance, a little bit of HP Lovecraft-esque scenery, and some vampire action. Yup--makes no sense, right? Right. But it will. It's very intricate, very "out there," and so far I'm having a really good time writing it. In fact, it's the one I'm working on the most while I wait for the Dreampire edits, mostly because I have such a good groove going: a full outline complete for 31 chapters and two days of actual writing (and very part time writing, I might add!) and I'm already over 10,000 words. You know it's going well at that kind of pace. It's tentatively titled Shimmer, after those little reflections you see on the pavement from far away when its really hot. 

It's late, I'm tired, and I'm going to go ... read? Blah. Probably! Time to wind down for the day. I'm reading the third in the Breakers series by Edward W. Robertson. I think I mentioned him in a previous post. GREAT writer, really love his books. Highly recommended.

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Just some general ramblings before I get in the car and head to work for the day...

Still waiting on the edits for Dreampire... uh-oh, hope that's not a bad sign! It's always tough not to badger my editor at this stage of the game. All I want to do is revise, revise, revise, and get the book out there to general public. Plus, my editor is always my first critique too. She's one of those "brutally honest" people, so if she says she likes, I'm usually in the clear.

I'm spending the week in Michigan at Grandmother's. My work takes me to this state at least once a month, and most of my family still lives here, so I try to visit Grandma at least three times a year. It's always nice to come back home. Her house is the one constant, as far as a place or landmark is concerned, that's been a part of my entire life.

Oh, and before I forget... I think I need to give a long-range wave (and maybe a big hug) to everyone in the United Kingdom. I don't know what's happening over there, but all of a sudden the Watchers series has starting selling more copies there than in the US. And believe me, I'm not complaining. I think it's amazing! It just blows my mind that there are thousands of people all the way on the other side of world reading my books. So to all my UK fans, a big thank you!

Last of all, I got the cover back for Dreampire. Still deciding if it needs any more tweaks. I'll share it in my next post after I get back the final rendition.

Monday, June 9, 2014

I've decided to go with the philosophy that variety is the spice of life. While I wait for the first round of Dreampire edits, I've begun filling in all the cracks for the outline of the second in the series. Also, just because it's stuck in my head and I'm a little bit emotionally attached to it, I've begun work on a side project too. I'm only about 4,000 words into it, but so far I've really enjoyed what I've written. It's a little weird, but it's also a little personal because I'm using a few of my own life experiences as backdrops and side-stories, and that makes it FUN. I wouldn't say it's as weird as Sway, but somewhat along the same lines. Books like those don't seem to have the mass-appeal that the Watchers Series has, but I like writing them so much... I don't care, I'm just going to do it.

Speaking of the Watchers Series, I really think fans of those books are going to love Dreampire. Without throwing it all on the table and ruining it before you even read the first page, I will say that a lot of your favorite characters show up again. It picks up right after the end of The Fall of Astralis, and although it mainly follows a new guy who is more or less just an innocent bystander, he quickly becomes entangled in the mess that Astralis always seems to find itself in and it ramps up in a big way. I can't wait to hear what everyone thinks of it.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

The last words have been written for Dreampire. I now have a completed rough draft that I can say I'm moderately pleased with. I've begun the first round of edits and have sent on a few chapters to my editor already. Should have the entire set of first-rounds done by the end of this week. Good stuff.

This has been a really good week. We got news from my daughter's flute professor at the University of Kentucky that she's been awarded a full tuition scholarship based on her first-year performance both academically and within the music program. I couldn't be more proud. My son's new trombone arrived this week, too, and already we (and his instructors) can hear a vast improvement in his tone. Both of them performed today in a community band, "The Heartland Winds," and the concert was outstanding. It was especially cool for me, because most of the players in this symphony are music teachers, professors, or professionals who work in the field of music. My son is still just a sophomore in high school and my daughter just completed her freshman year of college. Pretty cool to see them performing shoulder-to-shoulder with seasoned artists. The music absolutely blew me away. It's safe to say that both kids have had a good week.

My nephew graduates next week on Saturday, and I'm looking forward to that. He's a good kid, and will be leaving for college in the fall. I know he's very excited, and I am too.

Oh, and I feel like I need to give a plug for the book I'm reading right now. It's by an Indie author, Edward W. Robertson. The name of the book is Breakers. It's a series (I really prefer to read series... if I like a book, it's always nice to continue on and see how the people in it grow) and I'm only on the first book, but he's an outstanding writer. Great descriptions and really in-depth characters. He has a voice that is very unique, a great flow. I love a lot of the metaphors he uses--they're a kind of deep tongue-in-cheek look at the world he's created. It's an end of the world scenario... bad flu, people all die except a few, etc etc. But this one is pretty unique. Not your run-of-the-mill run-for-your-life story. If you ever read this blog, Edward--kudos to you, sir. I'll be reading your entire series for sure.

To all my readers and fans, thank you for your continued support.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Dreampire. What an evolution this book has gone through so far.

My original concept was a first person story centered around a guy named Trevor: 30-something, washed-up, wanna-be rock star who never did anything with his life and was, at that age, still delivering pizzas and going to community college.

Five chapters before I was finished with the rough draft, I realized how the main plot line could slide neatly into the world I'd created in the Watchers series. I liked the way it fit together so well that I stopped what I was doing and immediately rewrote whole chunks of the book.

But then I realized (after I was done rewriting those chunks, of course) if I was going to call the Dreampire series "a Watchers Novel" I should probably make the main character younger. The Watchers series is young adult before anything else, so it really made sense to change Trevor's age... which is exactly what I did. I had no idea how much changing a character's age would change the story. Phew. So. That was rewrite #2.

Fast forward to today (now) and I'm in the middle of the realization that if I'm going to incorporate so many of the characters from the Watchers of the Night series, I need to change the entire manuscript from first person to third person. For this first book in the Dreampire series, maybe it wouldn't be so important, but in subsequent volumes it will be important for me to be able to discuss the way some of the Astralis people think, and to do that I'll need to be in third person. Not to mention the fact that I know those characters so well, it'll be like visiting old friends. I've begun the conversion from first person to third person and let me tell you; if you're an author and you're considering doing something like this--don't unless you absolutely have to. It's a nightmare. I'm going to do it, I'm committed to making the change now, but it's like doing the worst kind of homework you've ever done in your life.

All that being said, I think I'm still on track to release sometime in July. My editor is ready to kill me, my eyes are burning, and my wife hasn't seen me for the last month because I'm always in the basement either working or writing but, hey--I'm going to have a new book soon so it will be worth it!

As always, thanks for reading!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

With the release of the final installment of the Watchers of the Night trilogy and the subsequent success of the series, I've decided to simplify the way I spend my time on social media and blogging. That is to say--I'm going to spend as little time as possible on social media, and more time working on my books.

My review site has been pulled, and I will no longer host reviews for other authors. It was difficult to the find the time already, but now that I've achieved a substantial fan base I feel more compelled than ever to spend the majority of my free time writing.

I want to thank all my fans for the reviews and personal emails they've sent. If I haven't answered you--and I think I have, for most of you--it isn't because I don't love you, it's just that sometimes I get a bit of information overload and it's hard to keep up. I hope you'll all find me here in time because this, and my mailing list, is where I intend to post updates and, if the mood strikes, general musings on writing and life and... whatever.

As always, thanks for reading!