Marketing

Why You Probably Won’t be a Top 10 Bestseller at Amazon

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I’ve been watching something pretty closely, and I just wanted to clarify it here so people are aware.  Amazon.com has their top 100 paid books list – their version of bestsellers – but don’t be fooled into thinking it’s any kind of a level playing field.

A while back, Amazon changed things so that free books no longer compete with paid books on the bestseller list.  Two separate lists. This is why I tell people, making your book free probably won’t help it’s sales.  First, it makes it no more likely to be noticed than it was before, and second, even if you become the #1 bestselling free book on Amazon, the minute you put a price on your book, that ranking disappears and you are starting over with paid sales.

Now there are new things. In the top ten of Amazon’s paid bestseller list you will find four titles currently filling slots that are #1 in multiple categories.  These books are not even published yet, officially.  However, there is the Kindle First Program, and there is Amazon Prime.  Combining those two, you can buy these pre-release books for a price of… nothing … if you are a prime member.  Free brand new books.  All four titles are also published by Amazon imprints where (as we all know) they will be promoted in ways and to quantities of Kindle readers almost nothing else can match… In other words, your book is competing against brand new pre-release free books being published by the people compiling the list.  You can see that this is a problem… four of the top ten slots are being gamed by the publisher and retailer, using free sales they semantically report as paid sales – and I’m not telling you this because we should rise up and stop them – it’s their store.  I just want you to be aware.  You are probably NOT going to make that top ten list.  In the image above, two of the three top books today are Amazon books that are pre-orders and Kindle First.

Crossroad Press recently had a book sell over 3500 copies in a day and it made it to #12.   That was with a price drop and a great third party promotion (that was not cheap).  Consider that to GET that promotion, the book already had to have a great cover, good reviews, etc… and you can see another “gaming” piece fall into place.  If you can sell thousands of free pre-orders and they count as paid sales…those buyers can also leave reviews.  That means, those books will be eligible for bigger promotions from other sites right out of the gate, and not because they are better books, but because Amazon has promoted them through the roof.

So next time you wonder how in the heck some of those books got there and stay there, remember this article.  Currently four books  by authors I’ve never heard of are kicking butt on Stephen King, J. K. Rowling, and James Patterson (who doesn’t actually write books, but has his name on a lot of best-selling ones) … and if those folks aren’t in the top ten, the rest of us can start figuring our odds using negative numbers.

 

-DNW

eBook & Publishing Predictions for 2014 10 + 2 Bonus

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***Bonus prediction one from the Crossroad Press Organic Shredder – Gizzy Momo – pictured left … Thunder & Lightning All Day long…***

I’ve seen some other folks making predictions about publishing and eBooks.  Some of them seem pretty obvious, others show some insight, and still others seem kind of self-serving and more wishful than anything else.  Crossroad Press has been in business for going on five years now (seriously, and a bit longer as a hobby).  We’ve grown, made some mistakes, had some huge successes, expanded, and paid attention, and I thought, just for fun, I would make some predictions of my own for 2014.  Some will be in direct disagreement with those of others…but all will be just me, talking about what I’ve seen, and what I know…

***BONUS PREDICTION FOR 2014: Neil Gaiman will continue to be wildly popular because he is an incredible storyteller ***

1) Print book sales are actually up.  I see Barnes and Noble pointed out as about to flounder time and again, but here’s my prediction.  Come next year, though people will probably still be predicting their demise, they’ll be right here.  Nook book sales are steady for those who don’t spend as much time bashing Barnes & Noble as they do promoting books there, and working on sales.  They lost the tablet war, but that was a war that no one should have started.  Nooks are fine, and ePub books work on many devices.  So, prediction #1, B&N will be in at least as good a shape this time next year as it is now.  Probably better.

2) Audiobooks are going to start playing a bigger part in total sales, as systems like Audible’s ACX continue to make more titles accessible.  With Amazon’s Whispersync for Voice program – something other eBook retailers can’t match – more readers will be able to pick up audiobooks at very reasonable prices, and more audiobook listeners will be picking up eBooks in order to get the bargain price on the audiobooks.  The percentage of titles that make it to audio is already much higher than it was five years ago, and will continue to grow.

3) Content in eBooks that is video, enhanced, full of programmed features, will not do any better this year than in previous years, because they simply require people to read on tablets, not readers, and the trend (currently) seems to be (among serious readers) back toward simpler devices that are mostly good just for eBooks.  If people want to watch a movie, they will download one – but books are not going to evolve into some new meta-entertainment system.  At least not in 2014.

4) Libraries will continue to grow their downloadable content, and will embrace the new technologies and systems put in place to assist them.  Overdrive will start to lose its market share because of simple greed – if it’s as expensive, or more expensive, to provide eBooks to readers, it isn’t going to help already suffering library budgets evolve and sustain.  From personal contact with many librarians and buyers for libraries, I can state that there are a number of independent systems buying now directly from publishers, and more coming in the future.  While I have seen people saying libraries will be buying directly from authors, don’t fool yourself.  There will be an aggregator, and whoever that is is going to take a cut.  Libraries don’t have the manpower or overhead to sift through hundreds of thousands of solicitations from authors to carry their individual books.  In 2014, libraries will buy a lot more eBooks, but they will buy directly from publishers, or distribution systems.

5) Promotion of eBooks will continue to evolve.  What works today will probably be on the wane by 2015 because it will become bloated, too many people will copy it, and the effectiveness will be diluted.  Companies who succeed in weathering the storm will be those that keep their prices reasonable, pre-screen their titles to keep the quality as steady as possible, and change with the market.  I expect that at least one of the big promoting machines will pick up on my earlier comment about Whispersync and audiobooks.  I know from our own statistics that during really successful eBook promotions, we sell a ton of audiobooks on titles that are part of the Whispersync program.

6) It will not be any easier for a new author to promote or sell their books in 2014 than it was in 2013.  Famous authors will continue to sell crazy numbers of books.  Retailers like Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble will continue to announce books as best-sellers before they even go into pre-order.  NYC will pump in the money that ensures millions of sales for books by tried-and-true authors.  Most of the “Best of the Year” lists will ignore about 95 percent of the best of the year in favor of the Best of the Year published in high profile.  The game, in other words, is just a modified version of the old game.  The Catch-22 is that if you haven’t got a lot of money and aren’t fairly famous, the odds are stacked against you.  Doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buck those odds, just stating a fact. A new cover, better description – .99 bargain price?  They just don’t matter unless something causes readers to SEE YOUR BOOK.  That is the key.  The people who see it should not be your family, friends, and a thousand other authors…they should be people who don’t know you from Adam, but like to read.

7) Gurus will continue to tell you they know all the answers.  I will continue to say – if that was really true, they wouldn’t spend so much time trying to do things other than write, they would be using their secrets and making millions.  What works for one person won’t necessarily work for another.  Pay attention to what successful authors say, watch what they do, but don’t try to be them, and try to find ways to use what you learn in your own way.  “The next…” anyone will never be more than a dim shadow of the original, so why strive to be that?

8) Smaller print publishers will continue to be treated by bookstores as if they are big publishers, and many of both will fail because of this.  Unless independent bookstores find ways to embrace Print on Demand publishers and distance themselves from the big distributors, they will continue to disappear and by 2015 there will be considerably fewer of them, shifting most print book sales to Amazon and B&N online.  The old model of buying a bunch of books and then returning half of them will disintegrate as independent publishers flourish, and NYC slowly decays.

9) The age-old practice of looking at what’s hot and trying to copy it really fast will proliferate in 2014, continuing the spiral into that nonsense generated by successes in 2013, such as every variation of a shade of gray that can be applied to any sort of title being used to bump sales.  You will continue to see people go on and on about thousands of “sales” that were free giveaways, best-seller lists that are meaningless, and piles of five-star reviews that don’t actually equate in any way to quality or sales.  This is why – as stated above – the very popular authors will continue to be popular, and it will be hard to break in.  For every book someone spent time and effort on, there are fifty crap titles with nothing in mind but ‘cranking them out’.  This makes people gunshy about buying from new authors, and is also why the legit, careful promotional services will continue to draw actual readers.

10) The traditional author / agent / editor / publisher role will continue to morph.  Agents are now admittedly scraping new clients off the self-published best-seller lists (probably from a lot of people they ignored when the books were originally submitted) and all this can do is lengthen the already ridiculous lag time between submitting a manuscript and hearing back.  As more and more successful authors begin to see the huge profit margin shift of more independent publishing, more of their peers will begin to experiment and follow suit.  Agents have a tiny number of slots they can fill these days, and the advances against royalties that almost never sell-through, according to statements, have grown so small that no one could possibly live off of them without selling five to ten novels a year.  A steady income earned through solid, quality output and direct royalties back on a regular basis will win the day.  Companies paying a fair amount to the authors and taking over responsibilities authors should NOT have to learn to do (despite what gurus tell them) will do well in 2014 will flourish, as will rip-off groups charging authors an arm and a leg for scanning, formatting, promotion, etc. and keeping huge percentages – something that sadly a number of literary agents seem to have indulged in.  New models will emerge.  Subscription based reading services like ScribD and NokBoks will test new waters.

I know a lot of this is kind of vague, and in several of these single predictions, I predict a bunch of things, and even offer possible alternative outcomes.  The thing is, it’s fluid.  No one knows everything, and new technology, players, and talent emerge every day.  Keep an open mind, write… always be writing… and pay attention.

And from all of us at Crossroad Press, have a great New Year…

 

-DNW

The Cuckoo's Calling and Why J. K. Rowling is My Hero

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adumbI’m listening to the audiobook of J. K. Rowling’s pseudonymous mystery / thriller, The Cuckoo’s Calling – narrated by Robert Glenister and attributed to the fictional author Robert Galbraith.  I will start by saying it’s a thoroughly enjoyable book, and that I’m very pleased to have been in on the secret prior to reading it, because there are hints of Hogwarts I might have missed otherwise, like the victim – Lula Landry – can’t help but remind one of Luna Lovegood, and the accented voice of Cormoran Strike, our erstwhile detective, when performed by Robert Glenister, resonates with hints of Hagrid.  This is not a review of the book; I have other things on my mind, but I have to say, I am loving the characters, the story, and the narration, as I would expect to, the work having been created by a favorite author.

That brings me to the crux of the matter, though.  I almost didn’t get the opportunity.  The book, first released as a novel by Robert Galbraith, would likely have slipped past me unnoticed.  It received what your average novel with a slight leg up might see – came out in hardcover and got a short bit of press, and then began to fade quietly into obscurity, despite solid, positive reviews.  All of this changed, of course, when people learned that it was J. K. Rowling behind the pen, and that she’d managed to put one over on the literary world.  There are now more reviews of the audiobook on Audible.com than I have sold of my last book…and considering the low percentage of listeners who take the time to rate, or review, the numbers become staggering pretty quickly.

A couple of things occur.  I am betting that Rowling’s agent and publisher were never as enthusiastic about this as she was.  I am guessing they tried to tell her how hard such a transition to another genre was going to be.  I am also guessing it was their idea for the book to come out under a pseudonym.  I’m of two minds on this.

For one thing, I am fairly certain that it is doing as well as it is partially BECAUSE of the revealed secret.  The sad fact is that the subject of my post here (which I promise to get to eventually) is as evident in readers as it is in publishers and editors.  If this book had come out as a mystery novel by J. K. Rowling, it would have done well, but it probably would not have been the phenomenon that it is.  Many people would have nodded and smiled, but waited in hopes she’d come back with more Potter.  It’s happened to others – John Grisham, and “The Painted House” which is one of his best books, and also slowest performing.  The truth is; the “branding” everyone is so hot to create for authors is a two-edged sword, because, by definition – you are branded.

I have mentioned this before, but never attacked it head on.  Limiting an author to what an editor, an agent, or even the public expects and wants to hear from them is a horrible, soul-sucking thing.  Only at the very top end of publishing, the Kings and Koontz’s of the world, can the bonds be broken, and in most cases it’s because the author’s name has grown so powerful it’s a genre unto itself.  Anyone mid-list and below with even moderate success who comes to their agent or editor with something completely different is probably going to be ignored, harangued, or at the very best, forced into a pseudonym – where the book will be treated like any first book and forgotten, and the editor / agent will say SEE?  Of all the evils and horrors of the world of publishing as it has grown over the years, bloating, shifting control to agents (who are supposed to work FOR writers) giving marketing control over content, when marketing as often as not wouldn’t know a book if it slapped them in the face but DOES know the lowest-common-sales denominator, and, of course that’s more important than quality, the forcing of authors into “molds” is the most insidious and has probably cost us the most in terms of wonderful, forgotten books.

Writers are artists.  They perform at their optimum capability when creating what they need to create, not what someone wants to sell.  The farther you stray from this truth, the more generic and cookie-cutter the work becomes.  I have not been categorized – not really – because I’ve yet to have one of my books take off.  I am certain that if one of them does, that is what I’ll be known for, and judged against, and shelved by… and I will have to fight against that because I simply enjoy writing what excites me too much to go back to writing what someone else thinks I ought to.

J. K. Rowling is my hero because she did what she wanted to do, and then, she made it powerful.  She put herself and her name behind it and said “This is what I wanted to write,” and it is GOOD – and I love her for that.  I only wish she had not needed to prove the worth of the book by hiding it under another name, and that publishing, the reading public, and life were not so caught up in the notion that you have to buy the known quantity.  The movie with the top actor.  The book with the biggest name-brand and associated with the history of that brand.  The car some idiot drove too fast in a movie that is (in fact) nothing like the one you can buy…

You should all go and read The Cuckoo’s Calling because it’s a wonderful book, and because a talented author wrote it.  You should not read it because she wrote Harry Potter… but because you recognize and appreciate her talent.  You should not have to make that choice, but the world has put it in front of you…  How many people read 50 shades of crap, just because there was a big hoopla over it, and in SPITE of the almost absolute agreement among critics, authors, and readers that the writing wasn’t good?  How many people – also despite all of that – will go and buy the book on writing written by this person who by all accounts writes poorly – because it has her name on it? How many of you – honestly – who read or are reading The Cuckoos Calling would have done so if J. K. Rowling had been on the cover originally, and there had never been a secret, or a big deal made of the revealing of that secret?

The question is, of course – can writers make their way writing what they want to write, and can readers learn to pick books – not because of advertising hype, or “branding”  – but because of quality?  Or will publishing, despite it’s changing face, always make buying books as much like buying cereal as it is like art?

 

-DNW

The Birth of a Novel, and Some Comments on Commitments

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bulldogThe other day a blogger took me to task for being disappointed that one of the blogs that signed up for my tour didn’t post the guest post I gave them, or respond in any way to queries about it.  There was going to be a review at that tour stop too…something I’ve come to anticipate, as I’ve gotten only a moderate number so far on the book.  Here’s the thing.

There was a bare minimum of effort required for that blogger to meet their commitment.  I wrote the post, and I handed it in to them more than a month ahead of time.  I provided a free copy of my book and, while that blog does have a review policy that says reviews not guaranteed, they committed to the review when they chose it as an option on the blog tour AND their own policy states that if they just couldn’t finish, or whatever, that they will say so…  They said nothing.

Thankfully, the talented Michelle Lee let me borrow her blog space, and, albeit a day late, the Character Interview with LENORE is live (link below). Maybe I have unreasonable expectations, but these things have two-way commitments.  I met and exceeded mine, and it’s frustrating and off-putting to have that work ignored.  Enough on that.  I hope nothing horrible happened in the life of the blogger in question, and I wish them well, but as a cautionary note – if you set up a blog tour, vetting the blogs carefully is important, and one thing I would check is how long it’s been in operation (the blog) and how regularly it’s updated.  Also important?  Traffic, comments, and popularity.  If most of the traffic on a particular post is channeled through my own post about it on my blog, then I didn’t really need that other blog at all…the idea is to diversify and build the audience.  I hope I’m doing that.  On the up side, 287 people (or so) have signed up to win one of the prizes…

Today’s post is about the birth of Nevermore, A Novel of Love, Loss & Edgar Allan Poe.  It covers the pre-story in Kali’s Tale, and moves on to explain how the book came into being.  I hope you’ll enjoy it. Here’s a snippet:

“Eleven months ago, I wrote the following at the beginning of a post at my website and blog:

 “I’ve started (finally) working on the next Donovan DeChance book.  This book will follow directly on the tail of the events in Book IV, Kali’s Tale – still a stand-alone story, and still something you could read without having read the others, though I realize that as time goes on…and the series grows… this is less and less true.  It’s always best to start at the beginning.  It’s just not possible to rehash everything properly without detracting from the new story…”

THE TOUR SO FAR:

Read a Character interview with LENORE (My version) at Michelle Lee’s blog

Read my post about what influences my writing at Rinn Reads!

Read my guest post about Donovan DeChance at the Paranormal Book Club

Read the guest post about memorable characters, and Cletus J. Diggs and the review at Brooke Blogs. She liked it!

Read my post about romance in books over at Fierce Dolan’s Blog..

My post about why I’m glad Nevermore was not published traditionally – read it at the What Readers Want blog!

How personal and North Carolina history affect the novel – read at the FLYING HIGH blog!

Read about mining history for your fiction at Christine’s Words!

Read about the cover art by Lisa Snellings at Workaday Reads

Read the review of the book, and the guest post on keeping your series new

Read the interview at One More Chapter

Read my post about writers – and reading – at Janna Shay’s blog!

Read My post – Everybody Loves a Mystery – here in this blog!

Read my post “Let There be Magic” at the main Buy the Book Tour Site!

Read my post about “The Dark South” at The Open Book Society Blog…;

Read about Genres & Why I hate them : ==> AT THE AUTHOR’S CAFE

Listen to internet radio with BuyTheBookTours on BlogTalkRadio

READ THE Guest Post about History in fiction at MELISSA’S BLOG!

Listen to internet radio with BuyTheBookTours on BlogTalkRadio

Interview with me at the Blog of author Hywela Lin

Interview with Donovan DeChance at Laurie’s Thoughts and Reviews

Interview with Edgar Allan Poe at MJ Schiller’s Blog (join the discussion)

Get the details of the book tour – and the giveaways – at Buy the Book Tours…

BUY NEVERMORE! AT AMAZON.COM or BARNES & NOBLE or CROSSROAD PRESS

DOWNLOAD THE AUDIOBOOK FROM AUDIBLE.COM – NARRATED BY GIGI SHANE!

Five Ways to market your book – the good, and the bad + More Blog Tour

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extra1) FACEBOOK: Here’s the thing.  You can amass huge numbers of ‘friends’ on Facebook.  Maybe, as in my case, you have at least a vague idea why each of them is there, maybe you just clicked and clicked to get the numbers rolling.  Either way, you are not going to be able to resist trying to sell books there, so here’s a good, and a bad thing about Facebook.

GOOD – All of those with enough interest to follow you will know when you have a new book out, and some of them will read, review, and buy it.  Probably not very meany, because all 2,000 or so of THEIR ‘friends’ also have books, or etsy shops, or Kickstarters for videos of their cats with toy balloons, and they are busy marketing and socializing, just like you. (Note that tis “Good” is not all that good)

BAD – most of the people who will see your posts on Facebook already know you. They already know you write, they already know about your books, and have probably already made their decision about buying them.  Each time you tell them AGAIN, the filter around your posts grows, and you fall further into the gray area.  Facebook marketing, unless you spend a bunch of money on it, generally just markets to the same small group of folks, and in the case of authors mostly markets to other writers trying to market to you.

TWITTER: You may, like me, love the quick, witty banter of a service like Twitter.  I’ve made some long-standing friends there, and I’ve been with the service for a very long time.  Here are my good, and bad thoughts on Twitter marketing.

GOOD: – if you play your cards right, interact with a lot of people, build relationships and (holy grail of twitter) get onto the radar of people with real reach, Twitter can push the news of your new book a long way.  A single post about your book from the right celebrity can send people scurrying to see why their idol suggested it.  A simple retweet of a post asking to be retweeted has a lot less gas than one that actually originates with the celebrity  I am NOT saying you should start pummeling celebrities … just that if you can get their notice, you can sell books.

BAD – barring the time spent building relationships and the celebrity connections, if you mostly tweet over and over about your book, new reviews of your book, new places to buy your book, etc… lots of links with the words switched around?  No one is going to follow those links.  No one likes impersonal advertising, and particularly on Twitter, where interaction is the name of the game, spammy, scheduled posts about books people have already seen a hundred spammy scheduled posts about are more likely to prevent sales than to win them.

FREE GIVEAWAYS: There was a time when this was a great idea.  There have always been proponents of this method, and it doesn’t take much research to see that most of those really successful proponents were already well-known before they tried it.  Like anything else, it works better for a popular author than an unknown.

GOOD: – If you make use of the sites that will announce your book, plan ahead for your giveaway to be sure it’s promoted far and wide – plan the dates carefully and make sure the book you choose has good reviews / etc. you can really spread the word about your work.  If you are lucky enough to land a slot somewhere like Bookbub or Boookblast, the freebie can get real legs.

BAD: – Barring something amazing, follow-on sales are sketchy.  At one time Amazon counted free sales as “something” but now they have separate lists.  Once your free promotion is over, you go back to being ranked 650,000 that very second.  If you get lucky, you might coast a while on sales from the curious who found your book through a free promotion, got to it too late, and bought it anyway, but the lasting effect of free giveaways is not what it once was, and not likely to spur huge sales.  Also, if you get in the habit of doing these, interested readers just wait for each took to be free.  Also, some of the best promotions for what I will talk abut next, sale pricing, will not accept a book that has been recently free.

SALE PRICING:

THE GOOD – The .99, $1.99 and even $2.99 sale price is what the free giveaway used to be.  This method can work wonders, if you handle it correctly, and if you are patient but according to the experts in Tampa internet marketing,  you are going to need reviews.  I don’t think it’s wise to start such a promotion without 7-10 positive reviews, and it’s probably better to have more.  Plan your sale in advance.  There are services like Book Gorilla, Book Bub, Book Blast, where you can request a promotional day far in advance.  If they accept you, they cost money.  Spend that wisely.  Ranked in effectiveness, Book Bub has worked by far the best, but is the hardest to get into.  Book Blast has worked well for us, and is also much more economical than either of the others.  Book Gorilla seems not to have much affect on sales, but I have only been involved with it once, and have one friend who used it.  Sales were not affected much.  Note that Book Bub and Book Blast give you average download and sales numbers, while Book Gorilla – much like Kindle Nation Daily – only tells you how sales ranks changed, which can be accomplished with a very small number of sales.   The idea of the sale price is to get a lot of momentum, move up the sales chart, and then go back to normal price and try to sustain those sales.  The REALLY good thing about this is that whatever boost in sales rank you get – you keep it at the end of the promotion.

THE BAD – It doesn’t always work.  If you don’t promote it well, no one will see it – because no one was seeing it before the sale price.  If you try it as the sole means of promotion, you’ll just make less on the few sales you manage.  No promotion is any better than the effort put into it and the reach of its visibility.  Combining this with the first two, Facebook and Twitter, won’t help that much because – again – those people already know about your book.

BOOK BLOGS: – This is not a new thing, but it has grown into a PROLIFIC thing . A lot of people have set up shop reviewing books, talking about books, creating book clubs for group reads…here’s what I know about them.

THE GOOD – you can reach a solid network of readers if you can get your book into the right book blogs.  There are book bloggers with huge followings, not only on their blogs, but in their entire social media networks – you tube channels, Twitter, FB, Google +, etc. They can really create a buzz if your book catches their attention.

THE BAD – Just like with any good marketing source, there are a limited number of book blogs with the reach to really help sell books, and in those blogs, there are a limited number of slots for book promotion.  Most reviewers and book bloggers have policies on submission of titles, and most of the really good ones have become difficult or impossible to get into if you weren’t part of their network early on – or don’t manage to become part of their network later on.  Some have even grown into big book sites, with hundreds of thousands of followers.  Just like getting a celebrity to endorse your book – good luck getting into one of the important book blogs.  It’s not impossible, but is’t not easy.  The sad fact is that, while you might get another good Amazon review out of a blog post about your book – and that’s a valuable thing in combination with other promotions – most blogs are still fighting to find an audience.  A good gauge of how much reach you can get from a blog is to check the average number of comments they receive on posts.  I’ve been blogging here forever.  My traffic is (theoretically) pretty good.  No one ever comments.   Well, almost never.  They might today, since i’m talking about book marketing again…

When I have finished it, I will blog about my blog tour – still ongoing.  The jury is still out on this… You can be part of it by checking out all the posts, and interviews, and reviews that have accumulated this far.  Today I have a post over at FIERCE DOLAN’S blog – about romance in books, the erotic, and the subtle. You can read that post by CLICKING HERE….

ALSO – for those interested, I have posted a story here from my collection Etched Deep & Other Dark Impressions.  I wrote it when I was sort of caught up in the edges of the literary fiction scene… the poseurs and the literati, the infighting for a slot in the oh-so-posh pays not a cent hip ‘zine of the day.  It’s titled “Pretty Boys in Blue With Long Hair Dangling,” and it’s available from the Short Fiction Excerpts menu at the top of the page.

 

THE TOUR SO FAR:

My post about why I’m glad Nevermore was not published traditionally – read it at the What Readers Want blog!

How personal and North Carolina history affect the novel – read at the FLYING HIGH blog!

Read about mining history for your fiction at Christine’s Words!

Read about the cover art by Lisa Snellings at Workaday Reads

Read the review of the book, and the guest post on keeping your series new

Read the interview at One More Chapter

Read my post about writers – and reading – at Janna Shay’s blog!

Read My post – Everybody Loves a Mystery – here in this blog!

Read my post “Let There be Magic” at the main Buy the Book Tour Site!

Read my post about “The Dark South” at The Open Book Society Blog…;

Read about Genres & Why I hate them : ==> AT THE AUTHOR’S CAFE

Listen to internet radio with BuyTheBookTours on BlogTalkRadio

READ THE Guest Post about History in fiction at MELISSA’S BLOG!

Listen to internet radio with BuyTheBookTours on BlogTalkRadio

Interview with me at the Blog of author Hywela Lin

Interview with Donovan DeChance at Laurie’s Thoughts and Reviews

Interview with Edgar Allan Poe at MJ Schiller’s Blog (join the discussion)

Get the details of the book tour – and the giveaways – at Buy the Book Tours…

BUY NEVERMORE! AT AMAZON.COM or BARNES & NOBLE or CROSSROAD PRESS

DOWNLOAD THE AUDIOBOOK FROM AUDIBLE.COM – NARRATED BY GIGI SHANE!

The Blog Tour Day Four – An Interview & a Post About History

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pookdaddy

 

Today – day four of the blog tour – there are two sites to visit.  That’s just how it works sometimes, I supposed.  To keep it “shaken up” however, one is a guest post about how I work with history in my fiction – the other is an interview with me over at HSIB where I am the featured author / book of the day.

I hope you are all following these links…reading what I wrote.  I put a lot of time into this.  If you don’t believe that coming up with something interesting 27 times in a row without a break is hard, give it a try …

Sales are slightly up on Nevermore – A Novel of Love, Loss & Edgar Allan Poe – but I hope you’ll give it a try.  If you are reading this, you (at least in theory) are interested in my work.  If reviews and reactions are to be believed, this is one of the best things I’ve ever done.  If you are a long time fan, you’ll find some familiar faces in the pages of the book, and you’ll want to know what happened before I finish Book V of the The DeChance Chronicles.

Anyway… today’s fare:

Today’s Guest Post is at Romance Author Melissa Keir’s Site – Sexy Between the Covers – titled “History is in the Point of View.”

“History is in the Point of View

One of my favorite things to do as an author is to take a story, legend, bit of history, or something else very familiar to people, and look for the holes in it.  Most history is reported by survivors, for instance, and nearly all of what we think we know of the past is skewed, just like the evening news, in one direction or another.  In broad strokes, we can see the outcomes of things that have happened, but the reality of how they happened, well, that’s always up for debate.” ==> READ THE ENTIRE POST AT MELISSA’S BLOG!

Today’s interview is the HBS Author’s Spotlight:

Congratulations on your new novel: Nevermore. What do you have on the drawing board next? Can you tell us the timeline for its release and give us a little tease?

I never have just one thing in progress these days. I am working on Book V of the DeChance Chronicles, which I can only say continues on both from Book IV, Kali’s Tale, but also from Nevermore, a Novel of Love, Loss & Edgar Allan Poe. Nevermore really should be marked book 4.5 – even though Donovan DeChance only appears very shortly, because it is the lead-in to all that happens in book V – working title – A Midnight Dreary. Originally, the story that is Nevermore was intended as a flashback. It just grew beyond expectations.

At the same time, I am working on a Young Adult novel titled HOODS that I expect to become a series as well. It involves a group of teenagers in an inner city environment who have unique abilities. Sort of like “Alphas” or “Heroes” but gritty.

Along with this, I’m working on a long-term project titled Tattered Remnants that is a serial killer novel, of sorts…nothing I write is easily classified, but I think I like it that way. It helps me (over time) reach a wider readership, and keeps me from getting pigeonholed as this or that sort of author. I’m a storyteller. I have a lot of stories to tell, and not all of them are the same kind…

You have a good following on twitter. Since you started before the social media buzz, what impact has social media relationships had on your current success? How much has it changed your book launch process?

I find that Social Media is a very frustrating marketing environment…” ==> READ THE INTERVIEW AT THE HBS SITE

THE TOUR SO FAR:

Listen to internet radio with BuyTheBookTours on BlogTalkRadio

Interview with me at the Blog of author Hywela Lin

Interview with Donovan DeChance at Laurie’s Thoughts and Reviews

Interview with Edgar Allan Poe at MJ Schiller’s Blog (join the discussion)

Get the details of the book tour – and the giveaways – at Buy the Book Tours…

BUY NEVERMORE!  AT AMAZON.COM  or BARNES & NOBLE or CROSSROAD PRESS

DOWNLOAD THE AUDIOBOOK FROM AUDIBLE.COM – NARRATED BY GIGI SHANE!

In Case You Wondered Why I Was So Quiet

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In my continuing quest to try every means possible to find and reach new readers, I will be starting an extensive Blog Tour on July 22.  It will run on through September 2nd, and you can see the schedule below.  I have been busy answering questions, writing guest posts, and writing interviews with my own characters.  I now have invested almost as many words in this promotion as I have in the book (well, that’s a slight exaggeration, but only slight).

During the course of the tour, the price of the eBook editions of Nevermore will be dropped from $4.99 to $2.99 on Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble.  You will have chances along the way to win copies of the print editions, the unabridged audiobook (narrated by Gigi Shane) – and the eBooks.  You will learn about why I wrote this book, how it was researched, what influences me – now, then, tomorrow – music I listen to, books I read – more, in other words, than anyone should have to know JUST TO BUY THIS BOOK.  If you have already read and enjoyed this, PLEASE take the time to drop by Amazon & / or Barnes & Noble and leave me a review.  I’ll be saying more about this as the day approaches.  I’ll be interacting with any comments at all of the below sites on the appropriate dates (and beyond).

Enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway below for your chance to win a copy of Nevermore – A Novel of Love, Loss & Edgar Allan Poe and a $15 Amazon Gift Card!

July 22, 2013
Laurie’s Thoughts and Reviews {Character Interview with Giveaway}
M.J. Schiller, Author {Character Interview with Giveaway (Paperback)}

July 23, 2013
Hywela Lyn – Romance That’s ‘Out Of This World’ {Author Interview with Giveaway}

July 24, 2013
Nancy’s Novels – Welcome to she said, he said {Guest Post / Review with Giveaway}

July 25, 2013
Melissa Keir- Sexy Between the Covers {Guest Post with Giveaway}
HBS Author’s Spotlight {Author Interview}

July 26, 2013
Authors’ Cafe {Guest Post with BTB Giveaway}

July 27, 2013
Open Book Society {Guest Post with Giveaway (Paperback)}

July 29, 2013
Jenna’s Journal {Guest Post with Giveaway}

July 30, 2013
Slave’s Erotic Reviews {Guest Post / Review}

August 1, 2013
Janna Shay’s Fair Play {Guest Post with Giveaway}

August 2, 2013
Just One More Chapter {Author Interview with Giveaway (Paperback)}

August 5, 2013
The Realm of Fantasy and Fiction {Guest Post / Review with BTB Giveaway}

August 6, 2013
Workaday Reads {Guest Post with Giveaway (Paperback)}

August 7, 2013
Christine’s Words {Guest Post with Giveaway}

August 8, 2013
FLY HIGH {Guest Post}

August 12, 2013
What Readers Want {Guest Post with BTB Giveaway}

August 14, 2013
Fierce Dolan – Words Without Limits {Guest Post with Giveaway}

August 17, 2013
Brooke Blogs {Guest Post / Review with Giveaway}

August 19, 2013
Paranormal Realms {Author Interview with BTB Giveaway}

August 22, 2013
Paranormal Book Club {Guest Post with Giveaway (Paperback)}

August 26, 2013
Rinn Reads {Guest Post with Giveaway}

August 27, 2013
Overflowing Bookshelves {Character Interview / Review}

August 30, 2013
Paranormal Dimensions {Guest Post with BTB Giveaway}

August 31, 2013
Deal Sharing Aunt {Author Interview with Giveaway (Paperback)}

September 2, 2013
A Chick Who Reads {Guest Post / Review with Giveaway}
Sun Mountain Reviews {Guest Post with Giveaway}

Publishing – The Big "Thing" and how America reacts to it.

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Here’s how America works. It seems to be the same in every industry, and every walk of life, and we are in a particularly good seat at the moment to watch the entire process unfold yet again.  Someone invents something, makes something, or something that already existed somehow gains new traction and becomes a “thing”.  The minute this happens, the gears start turning.  While the originator of “the thing,” and the first few copy-cats out the door will do well, eventually people wanting to capitalize on “the thing” have to branch out.  Suddenly there will be services to help you do what the originators did.  There will be books about why it is successful, and how to emulate that success – mostly be people who have not done so, and  – if they COULD do so – would BE doing so.  Marketing schemes will rise.  Consultants on how to do that marketing will rise.  Analysts will roll out the adding machines and we’re off to the races.  Half of what we spend our money on (and this is a conservative guess) could cost a lot less by simply cutting away the layers of industry that have been built around the original “things” – and the greed of the long string of leeches living off of them.  This, of course, is a habit it’s hard to break.  People have to work, and in among all the leeches, there are genuinely helpful, knowledgeable people trying to help.  None of that is the point.

The point of this post is that Publishing – as an industry – is a perfect example of old school exclusivity, and a somewhat crumbling tower of layers it is going to have to shed to carry on very far into the future.  In the old school model, it’s hard as hell to get a book published.  They liked it that way (still like it that way) because it makes them seem somehow god-like and important.  It gives them the leverage to control people and “things” that they could not otherwise.  The same is true of agents.  Somehow it has reached the point where authors vie desperately for the attention of these folks – writing what they are told, when they are told and absolutely terrified of doing anything else.  The rulers of the industry would like you to believe that all of this is based on the quality of the work- that the agents and editors choosing the books being published are the cream of the crop from all possible sources – that they have magical powers that make their judgment calls the cornerstones of literature.  Let’s be frank – those cornerstones support Fifty Shades of Crap and enough books NOT written by the celebrities whose names grace the covers to carpet a very large city.  Maybe a country.  There may have been a time when publishing was largely based on quality – but it is currently based on cash.

Marketing rules publishing.  Hype rules marketing.  You are more likely to see a pop-up picture book from Stephen King than a well-distributed book by a talented newcomer.  Self-publishing and independent publishing is on the rise, but in many cases the sames rules are applying.  Someone creates a “thing” and a million people rush to copy it.  Ten of those million manage to do something that makes them money, the rest either rush off after the next thing, or branch out into the new surrounding industries.  Those who succeed become gurus – despite the fact that becoming a “thing” is not something that they could recreate, or teach.  Consultants build empires.  Editing services by people with absolutely no credentials to BE editors are around every virtual corner.  Services asking you to pay ridiculous amounts of money so your book can be “published” run by people who know absolutely that you have no more chance of success with them than you do without them, but that their dog will get Kibble if they convince you otherwise. A lot of these “publishing services” are run by respected agents and others whose place in the new schema is on rocky ground.  These are people you would hope would be working in the best interests of their clients, but history says no.  They are working in the interest of cash.

There is a great blending, as well. Agents – once very important, integral parts of the process, are mostly another blockage in the system these days.  They have very limited outlets for work they can sell.  If they are successful, they have clients they rely on, and the rest get little time, little consideration, and a lot of delay.  I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard authors say they’ve written dozens of proposals and sets of sample chapters that never got past an agent until they nearly quit writing in frustration.  The odds are that agent is hedging bets by stringing them along, but is really hoping to get off the phone so they can talk to a successful client. It’s business.  Another thing to remember is that, in most cases, agents are not editors.  Editors, these days, have very little chance of buying something new that they really want – unless the deal is very much banked in their favor, or the product in question either is, or appears as if it might be “a thing.”  Don’t count on this old standard route to get you where you want to be as a writer.  Remember – despite what the Internet seems to believe – that not everyone can write.  If you are good at it – you have a talent – a gift.  Don’t sign that gift over to people who have no intention of helping you nourish it…and don’t spend all your time dashing after gurus.  Study the market – study the new paradigm.  Ask questions.  There has never been a better time for talented writers, as artists, to stand up and change things.

As if it wasn’t hard enough to get through those old barriers, agents are now picking new clients from the self-published authors on the bestsellers lists – which obviously means less time for all of those people who made use of the services that helped them write their novels, edit their novels, write query letters for their novels – and submitted them in tight packages following said agent’s posted guidelines.  Yeah, it’s like that. All that money wasted – all those services that really aren’t.  Do you really need an entire book to show you how to write a query letter?  Is there really anyone out there who can so influence your book / project / talent with their “proven formula” for ANYTHING that is more than another crutch to hold you up while the slow-moving wheels of publishing grind on past your efforts without a sideways or backward glance?  Probably not.  Still, I have a whole shelf of books on formatting and writing.  It’s what we do.

Distributors – instead of being a convenient way for publishers to reach booksellers, they are now set up to make it more difficult for any but their chosen clients, or those who bow down to ridiculous demands, to get a product out there.  They bully stores by only offering good deals in return for exclusivity.  The bully publishers by demanding things like returns – knowing full well that just a couple of over-ordered titles could put a smaller business OUT of business. 

And it’s all crumbling. As it crumbles, keep your eyes open.  If something is a “service” now that was not there before, and it’s associated with “publishing” but really doesn’t seem to be… remember it’s how America works.  A thousand businesses wills pop up for every new “thing” and they will prey on the 999,990 who don’t manage to immediately copy the “thing” for profit.  The few that DO make it will be held up and pointed at to prove that ANYONE can do it – and there will be no articles written about the other 999,990 – it’s bad for too many businesses. 

Things I’d like to see when the smoke clears:

  • Authors publishing the books that move / inspire them instead of what an agent/editor says they should write.
  • Editors and (if they make the cut) agents who respond promptly and remember that they work for the writer.
  • A distribution system that allows indepe
    ndent publishers and sellers to interact fairly.
  • More transparency on the financial side of the industry.
  • A more cooperative world where – rather than huge advances, what authors want is steady, sustained income and impact – and where publishers don’t try to squeeze the majority of the profit out of those who created it.

I’m a dreamer, I know…but maybe that will be a “thing”.

-DNW

You are Not Everyone Else, Quit Acting Like You Are

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IMG_1204The new face of publishing has really set the Internet on its ear.  Pundits abound.  Lists are everywhere.  I’m not going to tell you I’m an expert. I’m going to say – I’ve been writing for decades.  I’ve published a magazine, and I’m currently publishing 130 plus authors and 600 titles in a variety of formats.  I’m going to tell you I’ve had good, and bad editors, agents, and publishers myself.  In other words, I’ve been around the block a couple of times.

The current thing distressing me is the all-or-nothing attitude people seem to be taking toward self-publishing.  There is the old school publishing model, agents, NYC, big advertising money and advances, reviews in trade magazines no one can afford… and there is the opposite, self-published books, priced to sell at .99 and making their way onto the best-sellers lists.  I’m not in ANY WAY putting down that success. It’s remarkable, it’s eye-opening, and it’s very very cool.

Here is the thing though.  Everyone is different.  Some people have the charisma, energy, and skill set to market, blog, tweet, post on every available online outlet, design professional looking covers and go the distance.  Some people just write.  Some people can do a little of each.  The new publishing paradigm is going to need to be be more diverse than the old one. Some will make it because of their ability to embrace the entire digital world and work it like a finely tuned instrument.  Others will need help.  Some will make it by luck.  Others will have the endorsement and help of someone who already has the pull to raise someone up to a new level.  We all have to work together, and the best part of this new digitally powered world is that there ARE options.

The new message:  

You have to have a blog

You have to be on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc.

You have to schedule tweets, do giveaways on Goodreads, conduct blog tours.

The old message was:

You need an agent.

You will have to wait years to get noticed.

Almost no one will make it to the top, or even into print, but you pound away until it happens.

My opinion is – some of all of this is true, on different levels and in different degrees, for everyone.  Do you need an agent now? No.  Did you need an agent before? No, not really.  I sold all of my novels myself.  All.  I have had agents handle the contracts, etc. for me, but I sold my books myself.  Same deal now.  I sell them myself.  You don’t have to wait forever – unless you want to be published in NYC – same as before but now you have options. At the same time if you want a six figure advance from NYC you may need an agent with the right connections.  Good luck to you.  Why deny all the options others might choose?  To validate your own choices? Blogs, Twitter, etc… Yes, no, maybe.  If you are good at those and have time / bandwidth for them they help.  If you are bad and try them anyway they are frustrating and soul-sucking.  If you work with others, you can group some of that work together, playing on the strengths of those who can.

When all is said and done, all publishing will not be self-publishing.   It’s as discriminatory a paradigm as the old one, leaving out all who can’t play the game, and I don’t believe the world will turn its back on all those authors who can write amazing stories, but can’t market them well if they choose to accept help.  Crossroad Press and the model we promote can help.  We are not greedy, we are not trying to get rich on the work of others.  We are not NYC…but we ARE giving a lot of authors the breathing room to write, and for others we’re providing that bridge – that step up – that allows them to compete with a new digital generation. It’s exciting, and I believe it’s important. If I didn’t I would just be doing my own books..

The two things that remain true in publishing and writing have been around for a very long time.

1) Everyone wants to know the secret to getting published and becoming a bestseller.

2) There is no one way, or secret, and never has been.

The sooner number 2 sinks in and we all start working and building together, the better.

-DNW

The Year of David Niall Wilson – A Parade of Books & Stories

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI have proclaimed this the year of me.  I have spent nearly four years building a publishing company, long hours scanning, formatting, copy-editing, marketing, networking, convincing new people to join us, helping people – and now, looking back – I can see where my own career has been on a slow but steady downhill slide.  I’ve had some successes, but no time to take advantage of them, and I’m still writing and publishing regularly, but without traction.

This year also marks our discovery of a number of new and very viable promotional vehicles, and, while I will be pushing  ALL of my authors through these and doing everything in my power to make each and every one of them a success, I will also be doing a major push on my own work.

All writers go through periods of self-doubt…it’s hard to get credible feedback, it’s even harder to believe positive feedback in the face of a lack of sales success.  I’ve had some short bouts with this, but, overall, the awards, the reviews, the connections with fans, authors, and even the narrators who have brought my work to audio, have convinced me that I have more than enough talent to succeed as a writer. What I need, is that break.  I’m going to make it happen…this year.

Part of that process will involve a series of posts here on my blog.  One book at a time, I’m going to go through my entire library.  There will be giveaways.  There will be some free days for a few books.  There will be copies of some reviews, probably some guest posts…but this year – my blog will be about 3/4 about my writing career…maybe more than that.

I have worked up to over 6,000 “followers” on Twitter.  I have nearly 5,000 “fans” on my author’s page on Facebook, and more than 2,000 more on my personal page.  Of all those people, I’m willing to bet that less than 1/4 of them have ever read anything that I’ve written except in posts like this, or on one or another social media sites.  I know this is normal – it’s the way it all works.  No one can read everything, and a lot of those friends and followers are busy pushing their careers, beating the brush for promotions, hustling and whistling from the shadows, opening up long trench coats full of books for the world to peruse … whatever it takes.

Still, I want to catch your attention.  All of you – you know who you are, even if you aren’t reading this.  You vaguely know me by name, or might even know I’m a writer.  Some know I wrote Star Trek, or Stargate, or for the White Wolf Gaming company back in the day.  Others know Donovan DeChance, or Cletus…still others have read my short fiction in a lot of anthologies where they liked the story (or didn’t) but forgot the names of all authors not King, Koontz, Barker, etc. shortly after reading and moved on to the next one.

Along the way my peers gave me the Bram Stoker Award twice, once for poetry, and once for my short story “The Gentle Brush of Wings.”  I have been nominated for other categories, and never won.  That’s not important.  What’s important is that i string up the holiday lighting, get my name in neon, and find those boat-loads of readers following the literary powerhouses and steer them my way.  I’ve written, very nearly, every kind of book you can imagine, from young adult, to children’s picture books, to cookbooks, science fiction, fanatasy, horror, mystery, thrillers – I write all the time, you see.

Next up, maybe as soon as tomorrow, will be the novel KILLER GREEN – based on the screenplay created on Twitter with a bunch of friends, and written right here on my blog – shared with the world – semi-famous, optioned, never produced – you know the one.  KILLER GREEN.  The novelization of that screenplay will hit the streets and I will let it lead the way as I push into this year of me.  By the time I’m done, those paying attention will know more about my writing than they ever wanted to…OR…I’ll have picked up some new readers and fans.  That is the hope.

I this guy, see, who likes to tell stories.  I can entertain you – if you let me.  I can draw you in, if you step over the threshold.  I’m here for you…readers of the world.  Let’s party.

-DNW

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