Friday, November 23, 2012

A Writer's Thanksgiving...

Okay, I know, blogs about why people are thankful are a dime a dozen.  So, just bear with me while I join the chorus.  Maybe, as you read through my ramblings here, you'll agree with what I'm saying.  Maybe you'll be moved to really evaluate what you have in your life.  And maybe, just maybe, you'll be renewed and refreshed, and have positive things to think about regarding writing, whether you are a seasoned writer or just starting out.  Regardless, I'm thankful right now that you are reading this blog post!

So, in reading other posts, I got to thinking about my own foray into the writing life.  It's been quite an adventure so far, and I would be completely remiss if I didn't acknowledge my profound thanks to my beautiful wife of nearly 17 years.  She's an amazing woman who allows me to partake of my dreams of writing, and she's extremely supportive of my efforts.  Once, for the first time I think, when we were in a restaurant with friends, she leaned over, grabbed my arm and leaned into me and stated proudly that "she's married to an author!", and smiled big.  It felt weird to me, and yet satisfying as well - this is where I've wanted to be!  So I'm very thankful for an amazing woman.

I'm also thankful for everyone who's purchased a copy of my novel or short story.  I'm continually amazed that I would be capable of writing something that someone else not only would want to read, but would PAY me as well!  I can't thank you enough for being willing to take a shot on me and my writing.  You've given me hope that I might be offering something that a lot more folks would be interested in as well.  Thank you!

What else?  Well, I'm thankful for Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, Apple, and a host of other ebook retailers that have made it ridiculously easy for authors to get their books into the hands of readers.  Without their hard work, my hard work would have a much more difficult time even making it to the marketplace.  I'm also hopeful for what will be coming in the next few years as well.

Not only am I thankful for the ebook infrastructure that makes it possible to reach readers all over the world - stop to think about that for a moment: ALL OVER THE WORLD! - I'm also thankful for those outlets that allow the same ease to market for print versions as well.  Not only that, but I'm also thankful for the outlets that make it possible to also have an audiobook version of my work as well.  It's simply amazing that it's now so easy to put out a book in the 3 major consumable ways that readers have grown accustomed to.

Lastly, I'm thankful to God for my brain.  I've got a ton of ideas, and I'm not sure if I'll ever get the chance to explore them all and let others read them too.  But, I'm going to make a really good stab at doing so.

I'm pumped about the future and how I can get my novels and short stories out to readers all over the world.  New hurdles will appear, but they should all lead to ever-expanding opportunities.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Are You Risky?

If you're like most people, you like what you already know; you like what's familiar, what's comfortable.  It makes life easier just to keep going along with what you've always done.  Besides, what's wrong with what you are currently doing?  It's gotten you this far...

It's not always easy to take a risk, to do something new, something that's a little bit scary.  Sometimes it's downright difficult.  But so often is the case, once you've finished the "risky" thing you set out to do, you learn so much about yourself and what you are capable of.  You also gain a new perspective on your life, and you don't look at things the same way; you have a new appreciation for the people that do what you've tried, only they do it day in and day out.  That new perspective is important.

To that end, I've embarked on something that I've been longing to do for years, and that is to learn a new instrument.  The last time I played any instrument was when I was in high school, and I played the violin in orchestra.  That was nearly 20 years ago!  But yet here I am, taking up the cause of learning a new instrument:  the acoustic guitar.

What do I hope to gain from this?  Well, obviously, I'm hoping to learn to play it so that I can play some of my favorite songs.  Maybe, if I keep at it, I'll learn to make up my own music.  But what else do I think I'll learn?  Like I had mentioned earlier, I'll gain a better appreciation of the effort that musicians go through to make music with instruments, especially guitars.  Not only that, I'll be able to 'hear' music better, making out the different instruments used in my favorite songs.  It also affords me another topic of conversation with people that I meet, which is always nice when in need of 'small talk' topics.  It's also another life experience that I can draw on for my writing; I might have one of my next characters use their musical skill in an interesting way, maybe to uncover a clue or solve a murder.  Lastly, it affects new areas of my brain, or at least dormant areas, causing new connections to be made in the ol' grey matter.  This has the bonus of helping to stave off dementia, hopefully for my whole life.

As you can see, there are many benefits to this 'risky' behavior I'm embarking on.  And yet, it's not risky at all, at least in the term that most people think of.  I'm doing it on my schedule, making sure that I'm having fun with it, just like my writing.  If you're doing something that you don't enjoy, why are you still doing it?  Life is too short to be stuck at something you don't enjoy, likewise life is too short to continue to do the same thing, day after day, without a change in the routine.

So get out there, take some risks, and enjoy the rewards.  If you find you don't like it, you've still learned something, and that's a benefit in itself.  Push your limits, explore the world, and see what new things you find exciting.  Be risky!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Am I All Alone Here?

Often, I elect to do my own thing, especially when it comes to my writing.  Some could say I'm a risk taker, and artist, whatever.  I'm just doing what I like and think will work for me and my situation.  But sometimes, I wonder if what I'm doing isn't the right thing.  To wit:  my election to this point to not do a freebie promotion.

It seems like all around me, authors everywhere are running free promotions on their books and giving away tens of thousands of copies of them.  Afterword, it sounds like they are selling 4, 5, 10 times or more than they were before the free promotion.  When I read or hear about these, I feel like a fool because I'm not doing that.  What makes them so special that they can have success but not me?

Well, I suppose that I could also join the ranks of the free promoters, giving away thousands of copies of books and potentially getting reviews and new fans galore.  I think I had written about this before in a previous post, and my arguments haven't really changed.  Is the exchange of a lot of free books worth it to get some (hopefully) good reviews?  Will that mean that I end up with a long-term, higher rate of purchases?

I'm just wondering if I'm all alone with my position.  I don't intend to make one of my books exclusive to Amazon and do freebie promotions.  I'm looking to make sales of my book to those who actually want to read them, not just people looking to score something for nothing.  I value my work, my effort, my storytelling more than that.  Am I all by myself here?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Are You Serial?!

The idea of serial storytelling, that is, publishing a story in installments, is not a new idea.  Charles Dickens might be the most well-known author that has utilized the serial story idea, but the idea has never died out completely, but languished in niche areas.  That has been changing along with the publishing industry as a whole.

Why publish a story as a serial instead of all at once?  Well, for starters, it was a way for an up-and-coming author to make a name for him or herself.  It was much less expensive to offer the story in small parts in a weekly newspaper, and it had the added benefit for the newspaper that folks would continue to purchase their paper so they could continue to enjoy the story being told.  To publish a full book was very expensive, primarily because so much work went into laying out each page.  Mass production of books was not yet a part of the book publishing industry.

Then, as it became cheaper to produce books, and paperback versions came out, further reducing the costs, books were no longer relegated to only those who could command the largest reading audience.  Lesser known authors could see their works printed and bound in book form, and as such the serial form of writing, for the most part, went away.  It remained in various places and served it's purpose in those niche areas, but until recently had not come back to a place of prominence.

Today, thanks to the flexibility of ereaders like the Kindle and Nook, serial publishing has once again gained the favor of authors and readers alike.  It's very inexpensive to publish a serial story (very near to zero, if you know what you're doing) and you have the potential audience of millions around the world.  Dickens would be envious of such a lofty position!

So, what about you?  Have you thought about writing a story that is delivered in serial form?  Amazon actually has a special program dedicated just to serials.  You would pay one price, and you would then get all of the parts to the serial delivered to you as they get published.  And it doesn't matter when you purchase the serial - if you get it after the 3rd installment, you'd get all three installments right away and then all future installments after that.  You'll never miss an episode!

I think I'd like to try it, and it would be a great medium for ongoing detective-type characters and others.  It's worked great for TV shows, such as Lost, Mad Men, Fringe and others, why not for books?  What other sorts of story lines might work well for this serialization idea?  I'm excited to find out!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Is Writing Your Passion?

Over the past several months, the issue of someone's passion in life has been the subject of many conversations.  So many people are just "working", doing a job in order to make ends meet.  I'm no different:  I have a day job that I work over 40 hours at every week, and it pays the bills.  But it's the things that I do with my remaining waking hours that really shows what I'm interested in, what I like to do, what I'm passionate about.  And one of those things is writing.

I don't know how many times I've heard someone say that they would just LOVE to write a book.  When I press them, they say that they have a really neat idea, and when they tell me I usually agree.  So then I ask them why they don't do it, why they haven't started yet.  The answer I usually goes something like this:  "Yeah, when I find the time!".  I've got a little secret for you:  If you are passionate about something, you will find the time.

Do I feel bad for these people who dream of writing a novel, but never do?  I little, yes, because they don't even give themselves the time to try it out.  But, then I remember that if they really wanted to try it, they would find the time.  However, there's another type of person, someone who actually did try writing a novel or two.  They've succeeded where so many others don't even start.  They've finished their book, and then they went on to self-publish it.  And then they start to wonder why it isn't selling a hundred copies a day.

It's these folks that really need to evaluate if writing is their passion.  If they really had the passion for writing, they would continue to write, to learn, to study, and to try to make their next writing project better.  They would be able to identify areas in their last work that could be improved if they were to do it again.  They wouldn't be frustrated with slow or even non-existent sales, they would be grateful for the sales that they did have and work to find more people that would also be interested in what they wrote.  They wouldn't get discouraged by a bad review, because they had been expecting it.  They would find time, even little bits of time, to keep writing or doing other things that advance their latest project or hone their writing and/or story telling skills.  These people have passion.

Do you have the passion?  Do you stay up late writing in order to finish something that's captured your attention?  Do you keep looking for new opportunities because you never know when you'll come upon a really good way to reach your target audience?  Do you keep learning about the industry, the latest changes, trends, and how to make it work for your goals?  If you do any of these things, and look forward to it, then you probably have the passion.  But what if you don't?  What if you find it to be taxing?  What if you find excuses to NOT write?

If you find yourself questioning what you're doing or finding ways to avoid writing or doing anything having to do with writing, you have to seriously question if you have the passion for writing.  Okay, we'll all give you credit for finishing that novel, because that's a huge thing; not many people even get that far.  But be honest with yourself and how much you like writing.  It's not for everyone, just like being a surgeon isn't for everyone (I'd faint so fast in the operating room it wouldn't be funny).  I've often said to people who complain over and over and over again about their job, if you don't like it, why are you still doing it?  Life is too short to be stuck doing something that's drudgery.

So find out what your passion is.  If it's writing, that's awesome!  Keep at it, keep writing, researching, doing, learning.  But if it's not, do yourself the biggest favor you can, and stop writing!  Go find what your passion really is, and pursue it with gusto.  You'll know what your passion is when you dream about it in your sleep, talk with people about it even when they could care less, and especially when you start to invest your hard-earned money on things dealing with your passion.

So go on, find your passion!  Mine is to write.  What's yours?

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Future of The Nook, Part 2

Back in April, 2012, I had blogged about the $300 million dollars that Microsoft had sunk into Barnes & Noble, specifically for the Nook ereader.  At that time I had speculated that with that amount of financial infusion, changes were bound to happen.  And it appears that one of the first very visual steps has been announced:  Nook will be coming to the U.K.!

In the press release from this morning (August 20) Barnes & Noble announced that it would simultaneously launch both it's ereader line of Nooks (multiple versions) as well as a U.K. bookstore to accompany the ereaders (  The launch has been pegged for "Autumn", which gives them a little leeway in the actual date since Autumn covers a few months.  This is Barnes & Noble's first serious attempt to branch out of the United States, by it's own admission.

Barnes & Noble also claim that they have fostered "partnerships with leading retailers" in which they will sell their ereaders to the English public.  These retailers will be selling physical Nooks in their brick & mortar stores as well as their online counterparts.

This announcement is perfectly timed so that Barnes & Noble will be able to take advantage of the holiday shopping season this year.  I'm sure that they had watched for a number of years as Amazon ate their lunch at holiday time here in the States, and now is their chance to make in-roads.

So, what does this mean for us as indie authors?  Simple:  more opportunities.  It's giving us another avenue to get our books into the hands of readers.  This is a great first step with the new money Barnes & Noble has, but it's not enough.  In order to keep the momentum going, they need to make their online store more customer-focused, making it easy for both returning customers and new ones to find what they are looking for, and then suggest things that they didn't know that they wanted.  Amazon does this well, and has for years.  If Barnes & Noble did this, they would provide some stiff competition for Amazon, at least here in the States, and in my book when that happens, everyone wins.

As I like to say, it's a great time to be an author!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

And The Curtain Was Pulled Back...

Today, with the help of a fellow writer (who probably doesn't know that I exist), I had an epiphany.  And as soon as I had it, I knew that I had to write a blog post about it.  Because until today, I had been fooled for nearly my entire life.  Because there are countless people out there who have also been fooled.  And because I didn't want there to be any more people in the future who will be fooled.

And what was this epiphany, you ask?  Simply this:  writers do not have access to a magic closet.  They are not special (I'll caveat this and explain later), they won't turn you to a pillar of salt if you look at them in the moonlight, they're just people like everyone else you've ever met.  And you know what else?  Anyone can be a writer.  Let me say this again, because some of you don't believe me.  ANYONE CAN BE A WRITER.

Now, this might not be a tremendously earthshaking revelation to some.  But to me, and apparently to many, many others, it is.  Being a writer involves work.  Hard work.  It involves giving up other pursuits to spend time working on an outline, or doing a re-write on a chapter, or just plain banging out the words on the keyboard or paper.  Being a writer means you sacrifice time, energy, money, sleep and more in order to make it happen.  Being a writer means that you treat writing as a job, and in any job you make it your business to understand everything that job entails, from finances to marketing to distribution and more.

What is a writer not?  A writer is not lazy, does not "wait for the mood to strike", does not push away things that others (like agents or publishers) are assumed to do.  A writer does not let others dictate where or how their efforts are to be used, nor does a writer let others dictate what they feel like paying for the efforts (in terms of one-sided contracts).  A writer is not special, not a prince/princess, not anything except a person.

As Kristine Kathryn Rusch points out in her latest blog post (accessible HERE), there has been an institutionalized mystique that has permeated not just the publishing industry, but has even emanated out into the rest of society.  Case in point:  I was at an author event at a local library the other night, and afterward I had a very nice chat with a local business woman.  Multiple times she reflected that authors are just "magical" and she wondered out loud how we could manage to write a book.  And I was taken back to my childhood and how I used to think the exact same thing!  I even mentioned it earlier that evening when I was talking about how I first got started writing.  I'm a writer and I STILL BELIEVED IT WAS MAGIC!  How's that for pervasive?

Reading Kristine's blog post, something finally clicked for me.  It's not magic.  It's hard work.  She rattles off a few big name writers.  Why are they big named writers?  Because THEY WORKED AT IT.  They didn't just have talent (though I'm sure some might say that they did not), they had a work ethic.  They realized that in order for them to make writing a career, they had to put in the long hours learning what they didn't know and writing story after story after story.  Earlier I mentioned that writers are not special.  The exception to this statement is this:  writers are special in that they do not give up.  They keep on working towards their goal of being successful writers, whatever that means to them.  They are special because they believe that their hard work will pay off, and it does.

For those of you who want to be writers, you can be.  Don't give up, don't think you can't learn and become a better writer.  Don't listen to people who say you can't do it.  Just trust in the story and your ability to tell it in the right way.  Anyone can be a writer.  It's not magic.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Pardon The Mess...

As with everything in life, change is a constant, and that's no different here on "Northwoods Words of (Fiction) Wisdom".  I'm in the middle of redesigning the website a little - nothing drastic, but it reflects the fact that my body of work is slowly expanding.  As many of you know, I've already published my first novel, "Coordinate For Murder" (psst, go and buy a copy if you haven't, the links are over on the right) and I've also published my first short story, "Pins And Dolls" (pick that one up too, it's a good read.  Trust me!).

But, I'm not just resting on my laurels here.  I'm working on the sequel to "Coordinates For Murder", I'm slowly plucking away at an epic fantasy series, I've got a brand new short story, "The Ritual", that's just about done and ready for release (watch here for the announcement), and I'm working on my first non-fiction book, "Midwest Chubs", which centers around me and my current training regime that should get me into fighting shape for my first road race at the end of June:  a 10K run.

Not only that, but I've picked up a small freelance writing gig with a regional magazine titled "Living & Playing" (  They cover events of all kinds happening in northwest Wisconsin and eastcentral Minnesota.  I've got my first article in the new upcoming issue, coincidentally about my first novel.  But I've already got my next article in the works, all about gangsters!

So, with all of these changes, plus a few select events that I'm participating in with some fellow writers, it's time for a little bit of changes to the layout of the website.  Bear with me, and in short order I'll get things all figured out so that you, my beloved audience, can take in all there is to my writings.  Thanks for your patience, and drop me a note if you can, I'd love to hear from you.  Cheers!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Free Book Giveaway - Winner!

Congratulations go out to the giveaway winner - Sonia Perry!  I was amazed that I had nearly 800 entries in the giveaway for my book.  It was fun to do it, and I hope that Sonia enjoys the book.  Thank you for all of the entries!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Free Book Giveaway!

You've been waiting for just the right time to come along, and I'm here to tell you that that time is NOW!  Starting today, and running through May 14th, you have the opportunity to win a SIGNED COPY of my debut novel, "Coordinates For Murder".

How?  Glad you asked.  Simply click this link:

Goodreads Book Giveaway

From there, click the "Enter to win" button to the right of the book cover.  That's it!  The winner will be chosen at random by the folks at Goodreads, and I'll ship it off to you post-haste.  If you desire, I'll even personalize it for you.  Don't wait, sign up now - you only have a week!  Then tell all of your friends to sign up too.  You want to be a good friend, right?  Then tell them!  But after you sign up.

Good luck!

Monday, April 30, 2012

The Future of The Nook?

The latest news regarding Barnes and Noble's Nook platform is that Microsoft is infusing $300 million dollars into the ereader.  What does this mean for the ereader market?  What about for readers who own or might own a Nook?  What about for authors?

In the recent past, there has been talk of Barnes and Noble spinning off the Nook division to a buyer.  I've always thought that this would be the death of Barnes and Noble, because without the Nook they would just be like Borders, and we know what happened to them.  Why would they ditch a part of their business that is doing well and keeping the afloat?  I think part of the answer can be found in how they address Nook users, or more accurately, how they are NOT addressing Nook users.  Let me explain.

If you've ever surfed the website, you know that the powers that be at Barnes and Noble have just not put much time or effort into making it easy to find things, and not just individual books, but best sellers, genre leaders, etc.  By contrast, is doing a bang-up job of helping readers find the books that they want.  And I'm not the only one that has noticed this, either.  And yet, despite their lack of attention to making things easy for Nook buyers/readers, ebooks are helping to keep Barnes and Noble going.

It just doesn't seem like they have things figured out, or even the first clue about how to get things started.  If I had to guess, it's not that they have no ideas, but that they don't have the atmosphere in their offices to have people go out on a limb and try something new.  Even if they are imitating Amazon with some things, if they work, why wouldn't they do it?  That's just smart business to do what works, even if its an incremental improvement; actually, ESPECIALLY if its an incremental improvement.  Businesses don't have to do one thing incredibly well, they need to do dozens of things just a little bit better, and they'll be successful.  Yet Barnes and Noble seems to just want to sit on what they have and not try to improve things at all, let alone incrementally.

So, back to the announcement that Microsoft is infusing Nook with millions of dollars.  What does this mean to the ereader industry?  Well, it means that a company with deep pockets is serious about making in-roads into a market that they feel is ripe for taking market share from the leader, i.e., Amazon.  In truth, Amazon's share of the market in the U.S. has been slipping, but they are still the leader by a good margin, and they are fighting to keep what they have and continue to grow it.  Microsoft is a software company, and that's what continues to evolve as we are moving from normal desktop software to mobile apps.  If they can have a part of the growing tablet market that also happens to crossover to the ereader market, that's a pretty tempting piece of the pie.

What about the Nook users, what does it mean for them?  Well, hopefully it will mean innovation.  With that amount of money, it means that they will have the resources to devote to people who can start making changes to the platform, doing research and development, marketing and more.  Hopefully it will mean that buying new books for the Nook becomes easier, more friendly, and that it generates positive word of mouth.  It means that people who are thinking about buying a Nook will have more reasons to go with the Nook versus any other ereader.

And finally, what does it mean for authors?  Hopefully, it means that the Nook folks will match the royalties that Amazon offers.  They aren't much less right now, but they should have no problems equaling what Amazon throws out there.  Also, it means that they have the resources, i.e., money to start innovating ways to make it attractive to authors to publish their ebooks on the Nook versus anywhere else.  It also means that they can start looking outside the U.S. borders to international markets.  Canada is a great place for them to cut their teeth, and they can move on from there to the easy English-speaking markets:  England, Australia, New Zealand, and others.

All in all, I'm excited for what the Microsoft money infusion could mean for the Nook.  It was only a matter of time before a new start-up company introduced the Kindle-killer, or for an established company with lots of money to try to enter the market.  We're seeing the latter, but the former could still happen as well.  And it all means good things for readers AND authors.  Embrace the change!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

April Doings

So it's been a bit since I've provided an update on things.  The industry continues to change rapidly, and some days its a major effort just to hold on for the ride.

I believe that I now have 4 different books in progress: 2 fiction and 2 non-fiction.  One of the fiction is a short story that is close to being done, but I've been helping out other writer friends with their books so haven't had much opportunity to finish it up.  The second fiction work is a sequel to my first novel "Coordinates For Murder".  If you haven't read it yet, I encourage you to check out a free sample on Amazon or Barnes & Noble, and if you like it, buy it.  I'm getting noticed across the pond in England, which is a blast!  My 2 non-fiction books are things that have been on my mind, and I'm finally doing something about them.  The first one is a primer on how to do not only an ebook, but a print book AND an audio book too.  No reason why the big publishers should have all of the fun.  The other non-fiction book is one surrounding my present efforts at training for a 10K race at the end of June.  I have never, NEVER run for fun or for a race, so this is a dramatic change.  Even more so because in my past I have vowed that I would NEVER run for any reason, especially just for fun/exercise.  And yet, here I am.  It will be part memoir of my current efforts at training, plus some motivational things because, as I put it recently on a Facebook posting, if this couch potato can do it, anyone can.

Wow, that's a lot!  I'm tired already.  But, I received a very welcome email at the end of last week.  Essentially, there was interest in featuring me in a regional publication, which made me very happy!  Some other details need to be worked out, but it's possible that this might work out to be a long-term arrangement with me getting a) credit for writing articles, and b) getting free advertising in each quarterly publication, which has a print run of about 16,000 units!  Yeah, don't tell me that's not cool!

If you want to know when any of these new works come out, drop me a line at dlk (dot) writer (at) gmail (dot) com.  Oh, and I can also let you know when the audio version of "Coordinates For Murder" comes out too.  Cheers!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

More Thoughts On KDP Select (Follwing The Herd, part 2)

I had an epiphany the other day.  I was chatting via email with a writer friend of mine, and something that this friend wrote caused me to completely stop what I was doing.  This friend was lamenting the fact that a favorite author had chosen to offer a story exclusively on Barnes & Noble's Nook.  I was suddenly shocked by seeing "the other side" of the KDP Select equation.

Let me explain more what I was thinking.  Say there were 6 places that you could sell your ebook (there are more, but 6 comprises the vast majority of ebook retailers in the U.S.).  Wouldn't you want to offer your ebook at all 6 of those ebook retailers?  Of course you would, because you would miss sales to some of your audience.  Yet, with KDP Select (or just making the decision to only pursue 1 of the retailers), you are saying 'those other places don't matter, and I don't care about reaching those readers'.  Yes, you really are saying that by your actions.  Does this make good sense?

From the perspective of the retailer, it makes great sense.  It's an exclusive, something that no other retailer can lay claim to.  It's the same idea with a reporter getting an exclusive with a celebrity; no other reporter, television show, newspaper, magazine, etc. has what this one reporter has.  It's what they use to help sell more copies, more subscriptions, and the same principle applies to the ebook retailers - they are using it to bring in more people who not only want the ebook from the exclusive author, but they might also want some of the other ebooks that the retailer has for sale.

From the perspective of the author, absent a really good incentive, it makes no sense for s/he to only offer their ebook for sale with 1 retailer.  What do they gain?  Nothing.  That 1 retailer isn't the only game in town, and not every reader frequents all of the ebook retailers.  Oh, and the incentive?  That really needs to be as big, if not bigger, than the potential sales the author is giving up from all of the other retailers that s/he is not selling at for the length of time of exclusivity with the one retailer.  For some, that could be a very substantial amount!

But wait, I hear you say, I can offer my ebook for FREE for a few days!  That will certainly mean that I make more sales, more than enough to offset what I would lose by not being on the other retailer's sites.  Answer:  it MIGHT offset the sales you are giving up from the other retailers.  There is no guarantee of this, and there are loads of factors that go into the success or failure of a particular book in KDP Select.  And remember, a free ebook is not the same as a paid-for ebook, and it has less intrinsic value than one that you shelled out money for.

But what about the Lending Library?  I make money off of that!  Yes, you do.  But will you have a lot of people scrambling to borrow your book?  Unless you wrote the Hunger Games or one of a handful of other books getting a lot of press, it's doubtful.  Why?  Because the audience that can take advantage of this is limited.  Only those people who a) have a Kindle and b) also pay for Amazon Prime ($79 a year) can borrow books.  AND they can only borrow 1 book per month.  So they have to be very judicious in which books they want to borrow.  Hence, your book is probably not going to be among those borrowed, or if it is it will be borrowed so infrequently as to not add up to much.  Again, does this offset what you lost out on from not being with the other retailers?

Finally, consider this: if you, like my friend, can't get the new story because it isn't available for your ereader, what is the likelihood that you will go looking for it once it is available, if it ever is?  The odds are against you going to find it at a later date.  And it is possible that because you weren't able to get it when you learned about it, you will NEVER get that story for a variety of reasons.  Also consider that it is possible that the opportunity to ever reach that potential customer may never come around again.  You have effectively lost out on ever counting that person as a fan of your work, and now have limited the pool of fans for your future works.

Do you agree?  Do you disagree?  I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Follow The Herd...?

So, I've been thinking lately a lot about the KDP Select program.  Mostly, I've been wondering if it would be worth my time at this point to put one of my works into the program and see what happens.  I know there are many people who have had great success with using it, but there are also many people who have tried it without any benefit, or at least very little benefit.  There are opinions on all sides, and I wanted to share with you a little about what's going on in my head on this.

KDP Select appears on the surface to be a really neat thing.  You get some free promo days, you get to be part of the Amazon Lending Library, and those things hopefully lead to more exposure, leading to more sales, leading to more bling in your pocket at the end of the day.  Sounds good, right?  Unfortunately, you give up being able to sell your wares anywhere else, and that is what has me tied up in knots.

See, with the continued growth in ebooks around the world, it behooves the author to try to offer their books in as many places as possible.  I'm only speaking from an American perspective here, so people outside of the U.S. will have a much different perspective (and one that I hope you would share with the rest of us!).  There are plenty of other countries that speak and read in English: U.K., Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and many others that I can't think of.  Wouldn't it be smart to offer your books to those folks as well?  If so, then the KDP Select program cuts you off from these avenues.

Coming back to the U.S., the next biggest competitor to the Kindle is the Nook from Barnes & Noble.  Right now, I'm not confident that the Nook will continue being a viable alternative in a couple of years unless the management figures things out and invests in what their customers want.  And Apple is making more and more inroads with ebook readers, both in the U.S. around the world, as is Kobo.  All of this points to how unstable this industry is at the moment, since any given week something dramatic could happen.

Should I do KDP Select?  I still don't know.  I'm leaning towards trying it out with one of my new works, since I wouldn't have to worry about other outlets as those wouldn't even be up.  But, it seems like everyone now is doing this, so the effects are diluted, which is why I think more folks are seeing very little results now versus when KDP Select was brand new.  There was a short window of opportunity that really helped to "make" some people, but now I fear that it's turning into more of a gimmick than anything.  To wit, I find myself seeking out free books that I probably wouldn't pay money for, and I'm stockpiling them on my Kindle.  I have no idea when I would get around to reading some of these, but I have them.  Do I really want to have one of my works languishing around on someone's Kindle that wouldn't read them for a while, perhaps a long while, if at all?  I'm not sure.  If they don't read it, then I have no reason to expect them to read anything else of mine.

I certainly haven't gotten many sales of my current novel or short story, but at least I have the satisfaction of knowing that those people that have purchased them, more than likely really wanted to purchase them, and didn't just get them because they were free for a couple of days.  It's a form of discrimination - I'm purposefully looking for people that are buyers, and not only buyers but buyers of the kind of fiction that I enjoy writing.  Is that wrong?  I don't think so.  It's not all about the money, or at least it shouldn't be.  Money is nice, but it's not everything.

I guess in the end, I'm still in the "waiting" camp.  I'm waiting to see if Amazon will take away the exclusivity they have built into the Select program.  I'm waiting to see how the industry continues to evolve as ebooks continue their advance around the world.  I'm waiting to see if a set of circumstances arises that convinces me to give Select a shot.  I'm waiting...are you?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

March 2012 Happenings

Goodness, a number of things happening for me the past couple of weeks.  Let's dive right in!

First, I just completed my first radio interview this afternoon.  It was a lot of fun, even though it will only be about 8 minutes long.  Hey, can't shake a stick at publicity, so I was all for it.  In case anyone wants to listen to it, I'm expecting it to air on Friday the 23rd or the following Friday the 30th.  It is on Wisconsin Public Radio, on a show called "Spectrum West".  The show airs from 5-6pm Central time on Fridays.  What you should learn from this?  It never hurts to ask.  I learned about this show and what it covers, then fired off an email to the show host to see if he would want to interview me, a local author.  Turns out they did, so here we are.  Always ask, you never know where the publicity might lead.

Next, audio books.  I've mentioned about doing audio books in the past, but I just learned of something that should add a little "Oomff" to my message.  Author Barry Eisler does audio books, and he is the narrator.  Check out Amazon and search his name for audio books, and you'll see that he has plenty that he narrates.  It can be done, people!  Why are you neglecting this important avenue to reach more people?  If you're writing for a hobby, that's great, but I don't have time for you (I know that sounds harsh).  If you want to do writing as a business, as a career, don't overlook a huge chunk of the reading public who prefer to listen to their books rather than read them.

Google ebooks.  I'm not sure where this might lead, but I wanted to give it a shot.  I just setup an account and uploaded my first novel to them.  I've heard people say that Google isn't even on the radar for ebook sales.  That might be true now, but if they get their act together (and by moving to the Google Play platform, I think they are starting to) they could be quite formidable - possibly being able to challenge Amazon for ebook dominance here in the States.  I'm not sure where this might lead, but I'll try to give you an update down the road on its success or failure.

Ebook sales.  I hear so many people either striking it rich or striking out.  What I haven't heard much of, but which I suspect is actually more the norm than is reported (for perhaps obvious reasons) are those people who just go along and sell a dozen or so copies each month of each of their titles.  Especially non-existent are the stories of the person who put out just one novel and is selling perhaps a dozen copies a month on a good month.  No one wants to talk about those (well, almost no one, but Dean Wesley Smith has always advocated that a writer put out a lot of work and be happy with a dozen or so sales a month for each title; it all adds up to solid income) for some reason.  Well, I'm here to report on my sales thus far for my first novel "Coordinates For Murder".  I must say that I'm actually pretty happy with what I've gotten so far in sales.  For the month of February, which was really only half a month since I put the book up on the 18th of February, I sold 9 copies of my ebook.  So far for the month of March, I'm up to 5 copies sold.  I quickly tapped out friends and family in the first month, so I know that these sales in March are from people that I haven't personally talked with about my novel.

Now, you might think these are small sales, and I will agree with you.  What you don't know is that I really haven't done much promotion of my novel.  I did send out a press release to local papers, some of which carried it.  I did send out press releases to radio and TV, none of which carried it.  I did do a radio interview, which hasn't aired yet but I don't anticipate that it will break any records.  And I did do a single post on Facebook to let my fans and family know about the book release, plus a little on Twitter and LinkedIn.  Other than this, I haven't done anything for promotion, and I don't intend to either.  I really need to be focused on my future writings and getting my name out there more.  If you like one of my stories, odds are you want to find out if I have other writings, and I don't want to disappoint my readers.  So, all in all, I'm happy with my sales results so far.  If it could keep on this way for good, and I could add in more stories that did the same, I'd be able to quit my day job and do writing for a living.  Ah, the dream...

Why are you still here?  Go write!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

J.K. Rowling & Audio Books

So do J.K. Rowling and audio books have in common?  Well, for this post, absolutely nothing, other than they both appear here!  And really, isn't that enough for you?  No?  Okay, read on.

So first, if you haven't heard the news yet, J.K. Rowling has announced that she is now writing a new book.  Nope, not another installment for the Harry Potter series - she's trying to work her way out from underneath that huge weight.  Instead, from what I can see, she is working on a crime novel.  This is geared toward adult readers rather than kids this time.  So why do I bring this up?  The main point that I take from this news is that she is doing something new, something different from what she has spent years on.  She's taking a risk and writing books in a different genre than what she has been doing.

What this means, writer friends of mine, is that you too should be looking at branching out to try different genres of writing.  Already I can hear the howls: but I'm doing just fine with where I am; I don't think I could write in a different genre; it's just too hard to switch gears; but I'm known for X genre, how will my readers accept something new; and on and on.  Look, there are such things as pseudonyms, people.  Give them a try!  You write sci-fi, but aren't sure if you could do a good romance?  Put a girly name on it and throw it out there.  You can bang out romance with the best of them, but a western has you tied in knots?  Start with a novella-length and put a manly, western-style name on it and give it a go.

The point is, stretch yourself.  The things that you learn by trying another genre can easily be incorporated into your "usual" genre, which will probably make those books even better.  Another thing to think about?  What if the characters from your two different genre books ever met, what would that be like?  Would they team up, fall in love, tear each other apart, etc.?  You are only limited by your imagination, so give it a go!

Second, audio books.  In the grand scheme of things, many independent authors are only thinking about ebooks, and more specifically ebooks on the Kindle (even going with being exclusive to Kindle via the Select Program).  Sure, ebooks have been growing in popularity and we've all seen the increase in sales for our own work.  But did you realize that this only accounts, at present, for only 20% of total book sales?  What about the other 80%?  Well, they still buy regular print books.  Have you gotten your ebook converted to a print book?  If not, go out and do that RIGHT NOW and then come back, because there is another segment of the book buying world that you are also probably ignoring - audio book readers/listeners.

There are plenty of people who are audio book buyers.  It just works out best for their schedules to listen to audio books rather than sit and read a print book.  Some have a long commute, others listen while exercising, and many other reasons too.  So why not audio books?  Well expense, of course!  They take a lot of money to make because you need to find a narrator, and a place for them to record it, plus costs for editing, plus manufacturing costs for the CDs, etc., etc.  Let me tell you, that doesn't have to be the case.

This weekend I was experimenting with some off-the-shelf components and software, and the results that I'm getting are nothing short of professional.  I'm really impressed with how quickly I picked up some basic editing techniques and what they did for the final product.  Oh yes, I was the narrator for my own work - who knows the story better than the author themselves?  It really wasn't that hard to get things setup and going, then do the recording, then do some simple editing.  I played around for about an hour, perhaps a little longer, and I have a piece of audio book work that sounds really good.  All that I need to do is take this knowledge and apply it to my short story, make a short intro with title, contact info., etc., then edit it all together, and I'm good to go.

Oh, but how to get it out there for people to purchase?  Here's the really cool part, which I've heard practically zero about from anyone. is really just another arm of (CreateSpace, anyone?  Hello?).  Audible has a subsidiary called ACX.  This subsidiary allows anyone to upload their narrated work and sell it through, which connects to  This means that you could have your novel out as an ebook, a paperback book, and an audio book.  How awesome is that?!

In case you were wondering what I used for my "studio", here are the pieces that I used:

Acer Aspire netbook (which is now my everything - I do writing, editing, etc. on it)
Zoom H2 digital microphone (borrowed)
Audacity 1.3 audio editing software (it's free!)

That's all that I used.  The Zoom H2, which is an awesome unit, connected directly to my netbook via USB cord.  I used this as a microphone, recording directly onto my netbook.  I used the Audacity software to capture the audio input and do minor editing.  That's it, that's all, couldn't be simpler.  If I were to purchase all of these things to start from scratch, I would be putting in less than $400 total - a simply mind-bogglingly low amount considering the power that is packed into these devices/software.

There really is no reason for someone to say that they can't get your book, because now you'll have it out in every conceivable format that they would want it in - except perhaps a movie, but you're working on that, right?  Cheers!

Monday, February 20, 2012

It's Alive!

Finally!  After a long wait, much help and a lot of work, my first ebook novella, "Coordinates For Murder", is available.  It is presently (as of the publishing of this post) available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, as well as Smashwords for all sorts of reading devices.  Over the coming weeks, the ebook will also become available on many other international ebook retailers, such as Sony, Kobo, Apple and more.  Additionally, it should become available in a paperback version by the end of February.

It's been a heck of a journey to get to this point, and I'm not slowing down.  As a matter of fact, now that I've been through the whole process from start to finish, I want to speed up - do more writing each day, write more stories each month, publish more stories each year.  I've got new goals for myself, and I'm really excited with the upcoming stories that I'm planning to work on over the coming months.

I hope that you check out my new novella as well as my short story, "Pins And Dolls", which is also available all over the place as an ebook.  Thank you for coming along for the ride and providing me with your feedback.  I hope you'll be entertained, and if you are, please tell others about it.

Now, back to the writing!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

February stuff...

So here it is February of 2012 already!  Wow, does time fly.  This is a short post, mostly to let everyone know that my novel is in the final stages.  Beta readers finishing up their stuff (thank you!), then I'll have my crack at one more redo, then it's out the door.  No need to keep hanging onto it and trying to make it perfect - it is what it is, and my writing will continue to get better over the years.  I'm hoping to have it out in the next 2 or 3 weeks, and when I do I'll give it a big announcement.

In the meantime, I've started on my next short story, tentatively titled "The Ritual".  I'm excited about this story, it's one that I've sat on for a while, and I think it will really give people something to think about.  No ETA on this one, but stay tuned.  Later!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

January 2012

Here I sit, broken hearted...

Not really, actually.  I'm quite heartened, as a matter of fact.  And you should be too, for a variety of reasons.  But, since this is my blog, we'll just talk about me.  Yay!

First, I like new years.  They are a chance to wipe the slate clean and start over.  Forget all of oopsies, scatter-brained moments, brain farts, etc.  This year is no exception.  I'm trying to incorporate new habits into my life, including setting up a new yearly word writing goal.  So here it is, for all the world to mock.  My goal for this year is to write 100,000 words.  That might or might not sound ambitious, but it's my goal and I'm the only one that has to care.  Of course, if you'd like to inquire about how I'm doing on my goal, you can.  I might even do an update post to let you all know how it's going.  But, so far so good.  At least until this week, that is.  Which leads me into my next point.

Probably my biggest accomplishment since I've started writing happened this past Sunday.  I finally finished the first draft of my debut novel!  Thank you, thank you.  But now I'm into the editing phase, which is taking longer than I anticipated.  But then again, writing the dang thing took me longer than anticipated too, so what do I know?  But, because of the editing thing, I'm not writing as much, or at all, for the time being.  But that's okay, because I'm making progress on my ultimate goal which is to have my novel released to the world soon.  My target month right now is February, and since we're nearly to the middle of the month of January already, I better get my butt in gear!

What else is new?  Well, I'm starting to get a just a trickle of sales of my short story, "Pins and Dolls" (available everywhere - go a buy a copy now!  The links are over there, on your right!).  A couple of people that bought it are friends of mine (thank you!), but a couple of people I have no clue as to who they are, which is a complete rush!  (and thank you as well!)  It's really fun to see things start to happen, especially when I haven't put any serious effort to "spread the word" about it.  Which leads into my next point (gosh I'm good at segues, aren't I?).

Last month I posted that I was against the KDP Select program from Amazon.  And I still think my reasons are sound - for those with already published works that have solid sales figures on multiple ebook platforms.  However, I think I need to modify my thinking a bit.  With my new novel, which isn't for sale anywhere currently, I would be remiss if I didn't explore options for promotion that didn't really hurt the sales overall, and didn't tax me with stealing my writing time or my money.  Because the KDP Select program offers me the option to offer my works for free for 5 days during a 90-day period, AND the fact that any borrows by Amazon Prime members will also net me at least a little additional funds, I'm seriously tempted to put my novel up on Amazon only and enter it immediately in the KDP Select program to help bring some additional exposure to it quickly.  This would fulfill the above mentioned requirements that I'm looking for in promotions, and I've now gotten a little bit of first-hand feedback on the program from a fellow writer (thank you, Donna!) that is encouraging.  Still thinking about it, but if any readers have some opinions, please spell those out in the comments section - I do read them all!

Lastly, for those that made it this far, and if you haven't already noticed, I figured that I would post the cover of my debut novel.  It's over on the right hand side near the top.  I'm super-thrilled with the cover, and the lady who did it is just amazing.  She has amazing prices as well, so if you're in the market for a book cover design, ebook or print book, give her a shout, and let her know that I sent you.  Her name is Lindsay Breen, and you can find her here:

So, make 2012 a great year for yourself!  Do the things you've always wanted to do, and stop making excuses.  I should know how that goes, I have the crown to the kingdom of procrastination!