I’m Going To…

Today’s pet peeve is brought to you by “Middle Aged Grouchiness: The Only Thing Worse Than Teenaged Angst.

A couple phrases I absolutely hate hearing are “I will ___ when I get a chance” or “I’m going to do ___ when I have time.” They grate on me like nothing else. (And to be fair, I’ve uttered those words and regretted it every time.)

When someone tells me “I will do this or that when I get a chance,” it’s more like a brush-off. It’s as though they’re telling me “I can’t be bothered. Let me tell you something to get you off my back.” It’s frustrating. Just do whatever it is you need to do! Why wait? Why imply a promise of action when you could be doing the action instead?

do-it-now-1432945_640The same goes with “I’m going to do this or that when I have the time.” Ugh!! Do it now. Take care of it now. You know what needs to be done!

These phrases have irked me for some time. Yes, I’ve used them before and I’ve not felt good about them.

What brought this to my attention was a recent interview I heard on NPR with an author whose new memoir contained egregious plagiarism. The author (sorry, I don’t remember her name) replied to the accusations by saying “I will get to them soon.” She knew there were problems, pointed out several of them herself, and carried on like it was nothing. If I recall correctly, I think many of her citations to other books were wrong or led to the incorrect pages of her cited works.

No! Do them now! You know the problems are there and you know the solutions. Fix it now! Why wait? What do you have to gain from postponing the action?

It sounded more like she was deflecting away from the errors and giving an answer she thought would satisfy her critics while doing nothing about it. She promised future action as a means of quelling the immediate problem.

Can we all stop this? Can we be people of action and not deflection? I include myself in this. I’m just as guilty as the next person. The sooner we can take ownership of the problem, the sooner it will be fixed. Responsibility folks: it’s a beautiful thing.

Rant over. Thanks for dropping by.


Want to win a $350 Amazon gift card? I’m participating in another BookBub giveaway where a lucky winner can nab a sweet gift card. Click the image below and follow the instructions to enter the giveaway. Good Luck!350-1

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Give A Little, Would Ya?

Lately I’ve found myself sharing my experiences with other writers as though I’m some sort of “Johnny Appleseed” of indie authors, planting my advice wherever I can. Let’s get that idea debunked now: I’m not an expert.

But what I am is a person willing and eager to share my experiences with the hope they will help someone else. My experiences might not be the most relevant or the most powerful, but they are mine not to keep to myself, but to share with others.

germ-2871773_640I belong to several indie author Facebook groups where new and experienced writers can exchange their stories and learn from one another. I’ve taken it upon myself to answer a lot of questions from the newer authors because if I were in their shoes, I’d want someone doing that for me.

It’s paying it forward and we need more of that.

Navigating the often difficult path to indie writing and publishing can be daunting without the proper guidance. I’m not going to say I know it all or I’m an expert by any means. My mistakes and low sales are evidence to that. But I do have experiences that if shared, can help others after me grow faster and possibly sell way more than me. And I’m cool with that.

I don’t see indie writing and publishing as a cut-throat scenario where I’m gonna keep my successes (and failures) to myself so others will be at a disadvantage. I want us all to rise up and be better. As fellow writer and all around good-guy Brian K. Morris says, “A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats.” If I succeed, I want other writers there with me.

There are always unscrupulous people out there in every facet of life; indie publishing is no different. Sometimes the advice or experience I share might benefit them too. It’s a price to pay for being willing to open up with others.

I hope you’d consider sharing your experiences, good and bad, with other writers and people in your life when you can. We should all be learning and growing. Our advice and recommendations may make it easier for others and might help them surpass our own efforts.

Cool, bring it on. Let’s all grow better together!


ForgottentrilogyCoverLast week I posted about reviews. This week, I’d like to ask for them.

My boxed set of The Forgotten Chronicles: The Complete Trilogy is chilling on the various ebook retailers all alone without a review to accompany it. Would you be willing to leave an honest review? If you bought the boxed set or read the trilogy on its own, you can leave a review for it on Amazon. For the other retailers, you’d have to actually buy the trilogy. So…if you could help a brother out, that would rock. I plan on running promos in the near future and as I posted about last week, many services need to see a certain number of reviews before they’ll promote your book.

Thank you!

 

All Those Reviews…All of Them!

Book reviews are like gold for authors. We all want them. They’re the “social proof” our books are being read by readers. But…how important are they? How many do you really need? What’s their point? What do we do with them?

how-to-post-a-book-review-memeEarning reviews on books helps potential readers decide if the book is for them or not. I worked hard to earn 50 reviews on my book The Selection. I joined groups for reviews.

I started a Facebook group called The Review Circle where a bunch of authors would agree to read and review the book of another author while also being read and reviewed by a third author. It works like this: Author A reviews Author B. Author B reviews Author C. Author C then reviews Author A. I didn’t want review exchanges, but the freedom of the author to read and honestly review a different book knowing they were not being reviewed by that same author. The concept works and we’ve done many “review circles,” but it was difficult to keep up with, especially when the same authors signed up and we avoided (as best we could) having people review authors who have already read them.

With all that work, how important are reviews? It depends on what your goals are.write-a-review

Many book promotion sites require a certain number of reviews before they’ll accept your book. Many need to see at least 10 reviews, others less. It’s funny because the largest and most effective book promo site, BookBub, does not have such rigid requirements. I understand why some of the services do. They want their readers to know the books they’re promoting aren’t hack pieces and have some legitimacy to them.

How many do you need? I guess this depends on what you need them for. If your book sells even though you have few reviews, maybe you don’t need that many. Or, maybe you could use more to increase those daily sales. If you want to schedule an email blast promo, you’ll need as many as they require for you to sign-up.

Why do we crave reviews, what do they do for us? The easy answer is that they let us know we’ve somehow touched the reader with our book in a way that compelled them to leave a review. It’s one of the most gratifying experiences to read a positive review of your work. At the same time, it’s crushing to read a negative one, though if taken as a learning tool, it can help sharpen the writer’s skill for future works.

I welcome any and all reviews, as long as they’re honest. If you’ve spent your money on my books or picked them up for free during a promo, I fully expect that your time will not be wasted in my words and my hope is that you’ll leave an honest review of my work. If you don’t, that’s cool too. It’s your call.

I’ve retrained myself to always leave a review of the books I’ve read, especially if it’s a fellow indie author. My hope is that it will encourage them to continue or maybe give them just enough to book a promo they’ve wanted to do. And the great thing is, it doesn’t have to be a long in-depth review. Just a few words saying “I really liked this book” or something like that works too.

What’s your take on reviews? Do you think they carry more weight than I’ve described above? Do you leave them? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Have you followed me on BookBub yet? If not, click the image below enter into a drawing where two lucky winners get a $100 Amazon gift card. All you have to do is follow me to enter. Gain over 80 additional chances by following the other scifi and/or fantasy authors as well.

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Want my book The Selection for free? Grab a copy when you sign-up for my email list through the Birthday Book Party giveaway. While you’re there, check out all the other free scifi and fantasy novels!

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Pulling Back the Curtain of a BookBub

Last week I discussed a few myths about BookBub Featured Deals. This week, as promised, I’m sharing raw numbers for both of my deals. I hope to help shed light on how great these promos are, even with such a high cost.

A few things to clarify first. Both books are standalones, which means no read-through in a series. They are both in Kindle Unlimited. Both were originally $2.99 and the deal ran for .99 in the US and International markets. As horror novels, both Featured Deals cost $356 to run.

Now, on to the numbers.

My first Featured Deal ran on Sunday August 5th. I was a bit apprehensive of a horror novel being featured on a Sunday, but it turned out fine. I hoped to have a ton of downloads and make my money back on the first day.

That didn’t happen.

screen shot 2019-01-14 at 8.30.43 pmHonestly, I was kinda freaked out about this development. I questioned my ability as a writer. I considered throwing in the towel. It really bothered me. Then I took a walk around Lake Murphysboro and let the stress dissipate. I’ve read all kinds of stories about authors selling tons of books and here I was with a total of 308 copies sold. I ended the month selling 443 copies. That wasn’t enough to cover the cost of the promo. However, I also had 44,751 page reads. Those helped recoup the costs of the promo and were key to a successful run.

It took nearly three weeks for me to earn back my money, but it was well worth it. I introduced a pen name to a world of readers who knew nothing of me before.

Then I had my second Featured Deal run on December 26th. I was super pumped about this and couldn’t wait to see the results.

It started out ok with 312 copies sold on the day of the deal with another 64 on the day screen shot 2019-01-14 at 8.34.38 pmafter. Sweet! I thought. They tapered off pretty quick after that.

Since the date of the promo, I’ve sold 461 copies of the book with just over 22,000 page reads in KU. It’s taken a little bit longer to recoup my costs with the lower overall page reads, but as of this post, I’m nearly there. I have no doubt if these were for a series, I’d have covered my ad spend a long time ago.

So I ask…is BookBub worth it? Yep! There is no service that performs like them. I’ve tried others and they lack the volume BookBub delivers. I’ve read about how they aren’t as good as they used to be which might be true, but of all the email blast promos out there, they are by far the most effective.

Marketing, whether you’re traditionally published or an indie author like myself, is key to long-term sustainability. BookBub can give your efforts a major boost if you’re willing to be patient and let the promo run its course. I plan on trying them again when I can.

How are your marketing efforts? What’s working and what’s not? Feel free to comment below. If you’ve had a BookBub deal, how’d it go? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Care to follow me on BookBub? Want to try for an Amazon $100 gift card? Click the image below for a bunch of chances to win by following scifi and fantasy authors on BookBub, including myself. It’s free to enter and who knows, you might win!

 

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BookBub Myths (And What You Can Do!)

Getting a BookBub is every indie author’s dream. It’s a spectacular email blast promo service that shares your discounted or free book to eager readers waiting to buy. There are other services, but none pack the punch of BookBub.

Because they don’t share what really goes into a Featured Deal acceptance, rumors run rampant throughout the indie author community about what it takes in order to get them to select your book.

I’m not an expert, but what follows are my experiences which I hope will help other authors plan and hopefully experience the joy of “Getting a BookBub!” Let’s start with a couple myths.

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Myth #1: You need at least X amount of reviews to get a BookBub.

Ok, so reviews are important. They’re social proof that readers like your book. I work hard to earn honest reviews so hopefully other readers will see how my book might appeal to them.

One of the biggest myths I’ve heard about BookBub is that they need to see at least 50 reviews on a book to even consider it. Umm…no.

I have no idea if they really have a baseline for number of reviews. What I do know is that both of my books selected for Featured Deals had less than 10 reviews at the time of the deal. Actually, they both still have less than 10 (one of them only has 3 reviews!)

From my experience, the thought that you need at least 50 reviews for BookBub to accept your book is flawed. Yes, you want reviews but they won’t hold you back. It’s funny because services that have a much lower ROI than BookBub require a certain amount of reviews and both my books would have been denied on that point alone.

 

Myth #2: You need to be wide (Not Amazon exclusive).

It might actually help if your books are wide (meaning on more than just Amazon) but from my experience, it wasn’t necessary. Both of my books were in Kindle Unlimited and still are.

What’s this mean to you? If you’re comfortable going wide, do it. If you prefer to stay within the confines of KU, do that. No matter what, present the best book possible, which leads to my recommendations.

I think what tipped the scales in my favor were a few factors.

The first was the cover.

For my horror novels under my pen name, I chose a new cover designer that rocked it! They nailed the genre while touching on the material within the book. I think if you want to be considered for a BookBub, make sure you get a killer cover first.

My novel “The Selection” has been rejected like a dozen times from BookBub, but the first time I submitted my first horror novel, it was accepted. I want to recover all three books in my trilogy but…money.

The second thing that helped was a decent blurb. So, I suck at these and always need help. I’m never satisfied with them. However, you want to make sure you create a blurb that leaves the reader wanting more and ready to hand over their money for your book. I think mine weren’t perfect, but they were good enough.

Finally, I think genre had a role. As I mentioned, my young adult scifi novel has never been accepted, but both my horror novels were. I’m thinking maybe not too many apply for that genre? Or maybe it’s a genre that’s growing? I honestly don’t know but I think with the great covers and decent blurbs, I stood a greater chance to get accepted.

Are there other myths you’ve heard that I didn’t touch on here? Please leave a comment below and let’s get the discussion going.

How did my BookBub Featured Deals do? Come back next week for a follow up post where I peel back the curtain and let you know exactly how they did.

In the meantime, why not click below and follow me on BookBub? You’ll always be alerted when I have a new release.

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Grabbing 2019 By The…

Happy New Year!

Say good-bye to the old and let’s welcome a new start for 2019.

I don’t remember if I made any resolutions or goals for last year, but I wanted to approach this annual reset with greater determination and focus.

It actually started the day after my 44th birthday when I walked around nearby Lake Murphysboro. As I trudged up and down the hills, the phrase “Before 45” kept repeating in my mind. I decided then to create actionable goals to measure my progress and force me to work harder. My birthday is December 15th, so it’s close enough to the end of the year to make these annual goals (though I do want to achieve them before I turn 45!)

In no particular order, these are my 2019 writer goals:

Publish 8 books

vintage-1148940_640Yeah, I know that sounds ludicrous, but it’s possible and who says I don’t have a few novels in my back pocket already? Quicker releases don’t mean lesser quality. I’ve got a process that works for me and I feel I can scale it up and increase what I’m doing. I’m in mid-trilogy writing now (it may turn into more than three books) and I’ve got a new novel near ready for my pen name. I’ve been working with two other authors on different series, though it’s still in the early stages of the projects. I’m also contracted with a small press to co-write a trilogy due for later this year, so 8 isn’t that crazy of a number.

 

Grow my newsletter list to over 5,000 subscribers

It’s now less than 900 because of serious culling a few months ago, but it needs to grow. No matter what happens, this has to be a priority moving forward. I believe in the power of a vibrant, healthy email list. I’m already putting in steps to achieve this.

 

Earn over $10,000 in book sales

Honestly I’d love this number to be much higher, but using my past performance as a guide, I’ll start here. If I can be transparent with my sales numbers, my hope is that it will help others learn and grow. Look for a post in the coming weeks with a recap of what I’ve earned so far. It’ll be brutal for me but instructive for you.

 

Grow my BookBub followers to over 1,000

BookBub is an amazing service that I’ve yet to fully utilize. Eager readers use BookBub to find new books to read. Why not try and grow my presence there for the future I have planned? They get notified of my new releases and keeps my name in front of the best kind of audience: readers!

 

Launch a book with over 100 pre-orders

Pre-orders are a point of contention amongst the indie author community, but I’d like to make this happen. My highest has been just under 50, so it’s a stretch but I feel quite achievable.

 

Blog once a week

This one will be difficult to maintain, but it’s something I feel is important. It gives me a place to share my journey and is where I found my first readers. You guys are super important to me and I need to honor that. Expect new posts at least once a week, most likely on Tuesday’s.

 

Attend 8 Cons

This one was tough because I considered doing very few, but with 3-4 already scheduled, I think I can make it happen. I’m looking for a few more Horror cons this year as my pen name has been crushing it and I might as well build the readership as much as possible.


There you have my look into the future. These are my measuring sticks. I expect yours might be different and that’s great! We all have different paths up the mountain (That’s a Craig Martelle reference for those who don’t know!) and no one path is the best. All that counts is that it’s your path. We all define success in our own terms.

So what are yours? What are your goals/resolutions for 2019? Feel free to comment with a few so we can all support one another. Onward and upward!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New & New-ish Releases On the Way

I’m pretty excited to share that I’ve bundled the Forgotten Chronicles Trilogy into one volume and you can pre-order it for only $2.99.

If you’ve yet to try my young adult sci-fi action/adventure series, there’s no better time to try it out than now. For the cost of one book, you get all three novels in one bundle.

The Forgotten Chronicles: The Complete Trilogy features the books The Selection, Rise of ForgottentrilogyCoverthe Forgotten, and The War For Truth and comes out December 15th. If you like fast-paced action set on a human colonized alien world where the natural dangers are almost as bad as the human ones, check out The Forgotten Chronicles and pre-order the trilogy for only $2.99 (after the 15th it goes to $4.99). Click the image or link above and start a new adventure today!


 

Several excellent authors I know are in a massive boxed set aiming for a USA Today bestseller status. If that’s not enough to consider their books, just think of the value you get when you buy their collection of over 20 paranormal romance and urban fantasy novels for only .99! Though I’m not normally a reader of paranormal romance, I did pre-order my copy. I know several of the authors and I know they write amazing books, so I figured why not give it a shot? At .99, how could I lose? Even if one of the novels was all that I liked, it was still only .99.

image1Please consider adding your support by sharing their set or pre-ordering your copy today. It would mean a lot to me to help them out and who knows, you might find a new favorite author to read!

You can get Rite to Reign at all major ebook retailers by clicking the image above or by going here.

 

Do A Kindness For Others

Have you ever found yourself doing the right thing when it was so easy not to?

Years ago while on my way to class at SIU, I stopped at a local McDonald’s for breakfast. I paid the cashier at the drive-thru window with a $20 bill and received a $20 bill and change in return.

My first thought? “Right on! I’ve got some extra money!

I drove to school grinning at my gain.

But then the guilt got to me.

DriveThruAt the time, I was working at a fast food restaurant as an assistant manager and I knew if any of my cashiers came up at least $20 short at the end of their shift, it might be grounds for dismissal. Was the extra cash worth it for me? Was the greed worth someone else possibly losing their job? What if the cashier was struggling and this was their last chance with their employer?

I wasn’t rolling in money. The extra money sure would’ve helped, but at what cost?

I only had one class that morning so on my way back home, I stopped at the McDonald’s and went inside.

“Can I speak with the manager?” I asked. The cashier looked at me with wide eyes. As a manager myself, I knew almost 100% of the time when a customer asked for the manager, it meant something was wrong.

“How can I help?” the nervous manager asked.

“I went through the drive-thru this morning and the cashier gave me $20 too much money.”

He misunderstood what I was doing and thought I was asking for more money back.

“No,” I said, “He gave me too much in change. I need to return this.” I handed him the $20 and turned to leave. A customer in line stopped me.

“You did the right thing,” she said, smiling at me as I left.

The money would’ve been great, but the cost to the cashier was not worth it. They would’ve never known where the money went and I would’ve gotten away with it. But in the end, I decided it wasn’t worth the trouble it would’ve caused the other person.

I don’t share this to brag or gloat, but to inspire others to always do the right thing, even when no one would know if you got away with the wrong thing. In the end, it’s worth it. I promise.

How about you? Any cool stories when you did the right thing though you knew you could get away with the wrong thing? Feel free to share! Or maybe you were the recipient of someone else’s kindness. Let’s brighten things up a bit, shall we?

 

 

 

 

NaNoWriMo Support

NaNoWriMo is upon us! Who of you are writing a novel this month as part of the annual event? Don’t be shy. Share your intent in the comments so the rest of us can support your efforts.

I’m a long time fan of NaNo and five-time winner. I’m not participating this year as I was in mid-writing on my current project and the timing wasn’t right for me. For the rest that are, I hope you’ve been hitting your word counts so far. What’s working for you? What’s keeping you from achieving your goals?

nanoprepIf you’re part of NaNo this year, I’d love to be your cheerleader. Writing can often be a lonely exercise but it doesn’t have to be. You’ve got a ton of others ready to see you hit that 50k mark and I’m one of them.

NaNo taught me to focus. It taught me to crush through my first drafts and go back to fix it later. It doesn’t need to be perfect, just written. Get those words out, only you can tell your story.

It wasn’t until I won my first NaNo that I realized I could do this writing thing. Before then I wrote short stories, mostly flash fiction, and winning gave me the confidence to push on and keep at it. Now with five novels released since I won, I can honestly say without NaNo, I wouldn’t be a published author. It’s meant so much to me and I want others to experience this joy.

Write on my friends. Keep at it. I invite you to share your tales and your experience with the rest of us. Having a strong support system helps tremendously and I want you to succeed!

Happy writing everyone!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#RiteToReign #iBooks Bundle

Hey readers, I wanted to share a new bundle of amazing stories from fellow authors I’ve known for a while. Read on for more info…


Something wicked this way comes…

Willful witches, supernatural sorcerers, cruel queens, and powerful priestesses fall out of favor and rise to rule in this highly sought-after collection of spellbinding stories!

More than 20 award-winning and bestselling authors have come together to curate this bewitching boxed set collection of the best PARANORMAL ROMANCE and URBAN FANTASY books in the genre, each brimming with stories of royal magic.

Journey through worlds of danger and mayhem, where witches and warlocks battle for influence and wizards fight for unrestricted power.

But reader beware: the highly addictive stories in RITE TO REIGN will put you under their spell. One click to secure your limited edition copy today!

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