NEWSFLASH: Zero Sum, Book 1, Kotov Syndrome, my Wall Street thriller serial trilogy, has been reviewed by acclaimed author Steven Konkoly, whose The Jakarta Pandemic and Black Flagged are climbing the charts. The review is a wonderful deconstruction of the trilogy, and is recommended reading for one and all.
I’ve been doing a fair number of interviews lately, and it occurred to me that it might be interesting for my readers if I spotlighted some of the authors I’ve run across who are standouts – climbing the charts, or noteworthy due to the quality of their work, or both.
I figured that would be more interesting than reading my scribbling about me, me, me, and so a few times a month I’ll be featuring what I think of as authors of note. Authors who have bucked the trend, beaten the odds, and are doing better than their peers.
The questions will be about their work, their process, and their views. Sometimes I’ll ask a marketing question or two, but that’s not the point of these fireside chats. It’s more to get inside their heads and find out what makes them tick.
My first two will be with bestselling author David Lender, whose latest opus, Vaccine Nation, is racing up the charts, and Steven Konkoly, whose The Jakarta Pandemic and Black Flagged are top selling thrillers on Amazon. I’ve read both their work, and enjoy it, so I’ll ask them questions that interest me, and hopefully you’ll be interested as well. As a thriller writer myself, I like hearing from fellow authors who are enjoying some success, and am always curious as to how they do whatever it is they’re doing.
After these two, I’ll probably slow the pace to one interview a month, with literary luminaries like Lawrence Block – guys who have been in the trenches, written a lot of books, and sold a bunch. In the end how often I do them will depend on the response to these. I’ll also ask the authors to check in on the comments a few times a week to answer questions from readers as they occur.
Hopefully this will become a series that affords us all a glimpse into the minds and processes of noteworthy authors who are making names for themselves. Everyone’s journey is different, but this will allow us to press our noses up to the glass and peer in at them, if only for a few brief moments. Stay tuned! First one coming within a few days.
On my writing front, I just finished polishing The Delphi Chronicle books, and my editor is scrambling to get King of Swords whipped into shape. Goal is to release King within a week or so, and Delphi by Xmas. I’ll be sitting down and writing a prequel to King over the next few weeks, while the character of the assassin is still fresh in my mind, and you can expect that out by year’s end. And I’ll be participating in a promotion for Andy Holloman, the art and details of which can be found below. So a busy December, by any measure. No rest for the wicked.
Join Russell Blake and 9 of his author friends at WoMen’s Literary Cafe’s Mystery Book Launch, December 13-15. Ten authors will discount their ebooks to just 99 cents. Buy 3 get 1 FREE!”
BREAKING NEWS: Acclaimed author Steven Konkoly, whose new thriller Black Flagged just hit stores and whose Jakarta Pandemic just got its 100th review on Amazon, just published an in-depth review of the Zero Sum trilogy that’s the best analysis of the books I’ve seen. A must read. And please, distribute it and tweet it, as it’s honest, accurate and engaging.
UPDATE: An Angel With Fur and the Pet Wall get spotlight coverage at Justin Bogdanovitch’s blog. Great pooch photos too. And the book is currently back in the #2 position in Animal Essays on Amazon UK!
It’s been an interesting few days.
My Wall Street thriller Zero Sum, Book 1, Kotov Syndrome, has been free on Amazon for a little over a week, and after a truly stunning first week downloads have slowed, as I’d been warned they would. Conversely, sales of the bundled Book 2 and Book 3 have picked up, and it’s bounced around between #1500 and #3000 on Amazon Kindle books for that same period, so that’s good. The free Book 1 bounces between #10 and #5 on Action Adventure in free downloads, so it’s still seeing decent traffic. The question is of course, how many readers who download free books ultimately will be willing to pay for content – I can see a sort of sub-culture that believes that writers should do so for free and that books aren’t worth buying – although of course those in that culture wouldn’t dream of doing a ton of work for free themselves. It’s an interesting question, and I suppose we’ll see the answer soon enough.
I had a hitch in the gitty-up over the size of the excerpts in Book 1, so trimmed them to just a couple. This is a learning experience, as once they loaded in David Lender’s excerpts and mine, it bloated the file so over 40% of the download was excerpts, which I was unaware of until alerted (my tech guy does the excerpts and formatting – I just write the books and wash the bottles). That’s fixed now by cutting back on the excerpts, so it’s a brave new world. Also, since making the book available free, I’ve gotten a few one star reviews – a first out of 100 or so reviews for my work, and all on the free book. I guess John Locke’s observation that people will either love or hate your work is true, and you have to expect some haters to get mixed in with the lovers, especially as the numbers climb. It’s all par for the course, and the road’s been walked before.
As an aside, comedian Louis CK has a wonderful bit about how some folks feel a sense of entitlement, no matter how good things are, and will always be disappointed. He tells the tale of a flight where free in-flight internet was being tested, and after half an hour it stopped working, and the guy next to him began fuming, saying, “Man, this is bullshit!” The bit is funny because the guy is annoyed and feels entitled to something he didn’t even know existed until a few minutes prior. That seems to be human nature for some. Point is you can’t please everyone. Louis CK is amazingly funny, for those who haven’t seen his work, and you should look for him on YouTube for a laugh.
I’m currently chugging away at my next WIP, which will be The Delphi Chronicle. I hope to have the whole thing finished up in a week or so, at which point it will be polish time, and then off for editing and a cover. This one is scaring even me a bit, as the underlying conspiracy is frighteningly plausible and is based on an amazing piece of investigative journalism I stumbled across while researching book titles.
After that, I’ve got the next book featuring Dr. Steven Archer/Cross from Zero Sum, and then three other book ideas for next year, all of which I’m pretty excited about as they’re novel premises.
The Pet Wall is growing slowly, and An Angel With Fur continues to receive rave reviews, all of which comment on how touching the book is. That feels good for me, as I’m so close to the story sometimes I lose perspective on whether it really is moving for someone who wasn’t there.
So I will be relatively quiet over the next week or two as I finish my current WIP, and then will come up for air and chew the fat more. Thanks again to all who have retweeted my tweets about Zero Sum Book 1 being free on Amazon, and who have been supportive as I experiment with different marketing approaches. It seems there is no one magic bullet, but there’s at least a light at the end of the tunnel. Hopefully it’s not a train coming at me.
Until next time…
UPDATE November 1: An Angel With Fur and the Pet Wall get spotlight coverage at Justin Bogdanovitch’s blog. Great pooch photos too.
URGENT NEWS: Zero Sum, Book 1 – Kotov Syndrome, is #1 Bestseller on Amazon free Action/Adventure downloads, and #14 on overall free downloads!!!
BREAKING NEWS: New review for Fatal Exchange from book blogger Kate’s Reads.
Thanks to everyone who registered a pricing alert with Amazon. It’s been a long week with a lot of help from my twitter buddies, but I’m happy to say that the mission was accomplished.
Zero Sum, Book 1 – Kotov Syndrome – is now a free download from Amazon.
You can download it there, and should. Early and often.
I know that hundreds of you sent messages to Amazon alerting them to the pricing disparity, and it looks like it worked.
Amazon is under no requirement to lower the price to free. They don’t have a price parity guarantee on anything but televisions. With books, it’s more of a smart business policy. But sometimes when you’re dancing with elephants you have to do so nimbly; with a little help from your friends. And so hundreds of messages alerting Amazon to the pricing disconnect were registered, and eventually a switch was flicked, and Zero Sum Book 1 is free.
That’s you guys – the power of the crowd, if you will.
Now I can market the books as they were intended – Book 1 for free, to familiarize readers with my intrigue/thrillers, fostering a trust in my style and reassuring the reader that I can write competently, and hopefully in a manner they enjoy. I know the biggest hurdle when I consider a new author is the concern they aren’t up to the task of keeping me entertained, and will come off as amateurish, or pedantic, or poorly executed in myriad ways. I’m pretty sure that once a reader has spent ten to twenty minutes with any of my books they’ll figure out quickly whether I suck or not, and if they believe I don’t, will then be interested in mushing forward through the remainder of the trilogy, and perhaps even to other books.
That’s the hope, anyway. Give the reader a taste, and then let them decide if further reading is warranted. Many will likely never read the download, or decide it’s not their cup of tea, which as John Locke points out, is par for the course, as is the likelihood of some hating you, some loving you, and some being ambivalent. It’s all part of the game. The only trepidation I have is that those who download free books might not fall into the demographic of those that buy books, but that’s risk anytime you hand out free anything. You have to expect those who go to Costco just to eat dinner by trying complimentary samples, along with legitimate customers who have no problem buying if they like it. At the end of the day, it all evens out, and the good will float to the top.
So now I have one more favor to ask, and then that’s it. For a while.
Please tweet to your following that Zero Sum Book 1 is now free on Amazon. The link is:
And always, thank you. I absolutely know I couldn’t have done this without you.
2011 was definitely the year of the book for me. Ten books released in one year (and one more I’m not releasing as it will make you all hate me and believe me to be the devil or something). Don’t try this at home. I never will again.
But never forget that the real push began when Zero Sum went free, and that was entirely due to support from the indie author community and my twitter crew. To all of you, Muchas Gracias! This may all wind up a tempest in a tea cup, but my bones say no, it’s the beginning of something big. We shall see. At least you all have front row seats!
Thanks again to everyone who contacted Amazon on my behalf. And thanks in advance to everyone who tweets about Zero Sum Book 1 – Kotov Syndrome – now being free on Amazon! As well as those who post honest reviews as to how they liked the books. Your feedback is important, and I try to read and respond to every critique.
BREAKING NEWS: I wrote a guest blog for author Benjamin Wallace on my thinking about book covers. It’s a good one, and you might want to check it out and introduce yourself to Ben, who is a talent. It can be viewed here.
BREAKING BREAKING NEWS: Fatal Exchange is the featured book at The Kindle Book Review.
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A few weeks ago I wrote a blog about writing. Specifically, about why I write, and positing that there are two general camps of authors — those who write for their love of the craft, and those who write to create a commercially-viable product. Put another way, those who would write if there was no money in it, and those who wouldn’t write unless they could get paid, or thought they could.
The response was unprecedented, with 113 comments at last count
In this new blog, I’d like to examine the opposite side of the coin I flipped the last time, namely effective book promotions. The overwhelming consensus of the last blog was that most write as members of Camp B (if you don’t know what that means, read the frigging blog), but once they’ve written something, the question that arises is, how to best promote it?
To start off, I’ll share a few promotions I have going on, or will have within a week. Some of these were a bit unorthodox, as I’m leery of the efficacy of things like contests, trailers, blog tours, and the like. That’s not to say they don’t work, but merely to admit that I don’t know how well they work, when they work at all. I’m hoping I’ll find out more by the time this blog has run its course. That will of course depend on the feedback I get.
The first promotion is a cross promotion in all my thrillers with NY Times featured author David Lender, whose work I’m a big fan of and who’s been very supportive of my efforts.
The way this works is that each copy of Fatal Exchange, The Geronimo Breach and (when I release them within the next 7-10 days) the Zero Sum trilogy, has an excerpt summary page right after the copyright notice in the front featuring samples of my three thrillers, and then an excerpt summary page featuring David Lender’s three thrillers. The actual excerpts are at the back of the book – three samples of my work, and then three of David’s, from The Gravy Train, Trojan Horse and Bull Street.
We figured our audiences would enjoy each others’ books, so have put this into place to see what kind of cross-traction we can get. We’re betting that if someone likes my new Wall Street thriller trilogy, they’ll like his Wall Street thrillers, and vice versa.
This is not uncommon with traditionally published authors under the same publishing house, but I haven’t heard of a lot of self-published/indie authors doing it. If it’s successful, I’ll keep everyone posted on how well it worked, and how long it took to do so.
Another promotion I’m getting ready to launch is with the way the Zero Sum trilogy will be marketed.
I’m going to make the first book in the trilogy free. Then the second and third book will be for sale, with a bundle of book two and three at a special discounted price.
My reasoning is that once a reader has had five or six hours of familiarity with the first book, they’ll be convinced enough to buy the rest of the serial, as well as possibly try my other thrillers. I believe this is a good premise, because the hardest part about breaking to new readers is to convince them that not only can you write, but you are worth an investment of their limited time. In short, you need to get the reader to trust you as an author. But they can’t learn to trust you if they’ve never read you, so my solution is to reduce the barrier to entry to zero.
Free is a pretty low hurdle, and one could look at it as a loss leader, or as an investment — the reader’s willing to invest their time in the book, so I’m willing to invest my cost to create it. My writing time, the cover and the editing.
And third, I’m lowering the price of all my books to .99 for two weeks. For the rest of the month. Again, on the theory that familiarity might breed something besides contempt.
I have no idea how well this will work, but my hunch is that it will work better than nothing, or sending out 100 tweets per day telling you to buy my crap, or a blog attempting to capitalize on a topical figure.
So I’d like to hear from other authors out there. What’s worked for you? What marketing or promotional efforts have yielded results for you, or perhaps as importantly, what hasn’t worked for you? What was ineffective that you’d never do again?
I’m open to being taught new tricks, and I believe that encouraging a constructive discussion can benefit everyone, so I’ve just tossed out my two best ideas for marketing over the next few months.
What’s your input? Don’t be shy; let’s get a discussion going so we know how to save our valuable time and money.