Saturday, January 28, 2012

A Valentine for Wounded Warriors

The last time I did a drive for Wounded Warriors quite honestly it was more about my father than the organization. (See Honoring Wounded Warriors) I’ve realized a lot since then and now, although I still send my donations in my father’s name, it’s as much about the men and women who serve their country – our country – and pay a terrible price.

The latest book I’ve written, The Great Twitter Adventure or How 5 Tweeps Saved the World, is about people who’ve met on Twitter sticking together to come to the aid of one of their own. That’s what’s at its core. Giving away the proceeds from this book seems a perfect fit.

So, from today through Valentine’s Day, every purchase at $.99 will turn into $.35 for Wounded Warriors. Now, that isn’t much – one book at a time – but for every 100 books that’s $35.00. I recently did a free book promotion for Red Mojo Mama that resulted in over 2,000 downloads. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if 2,000 people got this new book for $.99 and the Wounded Warriors Project got $700!?

So, I know it’s a crazy goal – but you’ve got to dream big, right? Please consider purchasing this novella, having fun and helping in a small way. If you’d pass the word, that would be even better.

Click here if you’d like to contribute directly - The Wounded Warrior Project - a wonderful organization.


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Unintended Consequences

This is just a theory, but I think I might be right. When Amazon offered the KDP Select, they may not have considered that all the free downloads which would suddenly become available to readers would fill up their Kindles to the point where they did not have to pay for a book for a long…long time.

I was one who signed up for KDP Select and gave away copies of all my books as part of the program (by choice, it’s not a requirement at all), a decision I don’t regret. But it’s been awhile now – a couple of weeks – since I ceased giving my books away and sales, which had a brief uptick, have now dropped below the previous levels.

I don’t really think it has anything to do with me in particular, although from some of the other author-participant reports in blogs, I would judge some are having much better results than I have. I do believe it has to do with an over-abundance of high quality free material.

I took advantage of the free books from several authors I’ve been meaning to read. I probably downloaded about 10 books. That will keep me going for about a month. I, therefore, have no need to buy anything for a month, when previously I was purchasing 8 to 10 ebooks every month. That’s somewhere around $20 out of circulation in the book community - definitely, an unintended consequence and when multiplied by the millions of Kindle owners out there this becomes significant.

I would love your feedback on this idea because the drop in sales is a mystery I’d like to understand. Any and all theories are welcome.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Why Blog?

There are so many reasons to blog, I’m sure I’ll miss many but here’s my take as a writer.

Blogging fulfills an essential need in me to express myself regularly. In my writing ambitions, that need is critical and should be fed as often as I can manage it. This was my favorite part of being a newspaper editor – my weekly editorials. Blogging has taken that small satisfaction and magnified and multiplied it many times over. Now, I express myself and people around the world read my piece immediately. That’s a trip!

Regular posting also keeps my mind sharp and my fingers warmed up for my great love, fiction writing. This is a fire I must always stoke because for me, that’s the heavy lifting. Blogging or editorializing comes fairly easy to me, but pumping at a lengthy story takes Gatorade, aspirin and fortification. I love it, I truly do, but it’s seldom simple for me. I recently wrote about the experience of easy, joyful writing, so it does happen but it’s not the norm.

As a recent post by Bert Carson (The Indie Writer Two Step To Success) pointed out, it’s also an essential ingredient for building and maintaining a readership base. I’m not sure how many of my blog readers have bought a book but I’m sure there’s a few and that’s good. Blogging gives readers a chance to see if they like your writing in a general way and possibly decide to take a chance on one of your books.

Another great aspect for me is being able to support a cause or encourage others. Blogging allows you to do good things in the world. That’s probably the most important one to me in the end.

So, if you’re considering starting a blog – jump in, the water’s fine.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Fickle Minded – That’s Me

Not as far as friends (where I tend to be loyal to a fault), mind you, but as far as having an opinion, I’m pretty fickle minded. I can be swayed.

The problem is I can see both sides of a proposition, question, point of view, etc., which makes it very hard to be dogmatic.

What does this have to do with writing, you might well ask? Not a thing that I can think of. However it has quite a bit to do with the business of marketing.

What made me realize that I’m easily swayed is my recent foray into the KDP Select program. I don’t have any significant or consistent results to relay to the rest of you at this point, but I can say it’s been an interesting ride so far.

If you haven’t heard of it, this is Amazon’s program to build customer loyalty, sell more Kindles, etc. How it affects writers is that in return for exclusivity for a 90-day period, Amazon offers authors the ability to have their books “lent” out (as in lending library) for which Amazon pays the authors a fee, by splitting up a pool of money. In December it was $500K. I hear it’s $700K for January.

Additionally, they give the author 5 days of promoting each book by giving it away. It’s interesting to find yourself rooting for people to just download your book for nothing. But you do. At least, I did.

So, a few weeks ago, I had determined that I was putting my book Red Mojo Mama back up to $2.99 (which I did) and there she would stay (which it didn’t). I put RMM on promotion for two days – for free.

I have absolutely no idea if this will ultimately benefit me. I’ve read five blogs by other authors about this plan, who have had mixed responses.

One way or the other, I now know this much about myself. I’m willing to try just about anything once, even if I’ve made up my mind not to. Hmmm….

Sunday, January 8, 2012

After the Rush

I’ve been on an adrenaline high for the past two weeks. It’s been wonderful.

In my last post, The Pure Joy of Writing, I described the wondrous state I was in while writing my latest book, a novella called “The Great Twitter Adventure: How 5 Tweeps Saved the World.” I finished and published it late yesterday. I was still flying high on my excitement at 2 a.m. this morning. Sometime after that – I have no idea when – I finally fell asleep.

Today – the adrenaline rush wore off, dramatically. Deep malaise set in as I tried to recover and I’ve had three naps today.

When I am taken over by a project or idea, I can literally live on air. I forget to eat, really can’t sleep much and am obsessed with the object of my intense focus. This time it was the book. Last time it was becoming proficient at Twitter, which was happily over the 4th of July weekend last year. Four days of non-stop tweeting until I understood how it worked and walked away with 38 followers. I was so impressed with myself!

I crashed that time, too. Only the excitement of meeting new people on Twitter kept me going through my sleepy period. I spent it propped up in front of my laptop, gazing at my timeline stream, occasionally able to rally enough to respond to something.

So, tonight before I hit the sack for the final time, I’ll throw down a few vitamins, drink as much water as my body will stand and give myself grace; because inevitably I blame myself for not doing more the day after.

Will I ever learn?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Pure Joy of Writing

There are those moments when I throw up my hands and think or say, “I suck.” Or maybe, “Why did I have to be a writer?” Honestly, they don’t happen much anymore. Thank you, Universe.

In the past year and half or so, I have gone through a change as a writer – a huge one. I like to picture my self as a caterpillar previously – not unlike the loopy one in Alice in Wonderland – who underwent a transformation into a writing butterfly. Seriously. Here’s why.

For much of my life – and I’ve been writing since I was eleven – I’ve been completely consumed with writing something “worthwhile,” like The Great American Novel, for starters, or perhaps the screenplay that changed the way Hollywood makes movies. There’s hardly any stress involved in those ambitions (my tongue is stuck firmly in my cheek as I write these words).

I was gifted last year with a character, Lydia (Red) Talbot, who grabbed me by my shirtfront and took me for the ride of my life. She was so much fun to write that I lost myself in her story, often laughing out loud as I wrote about her crazy adventures. It was pure joy!

I’ve been struggling to get there again and had almost given up hope, when an idea came to me so freely and fully that I actually wrote the 60-page manuscript The Great Twitter Adventure – How 5 Tweeps Saved the World last weekend. I’ve been polishing it this week and plan on publishing it this weekend. When does that kind of writing ever come along?

It was literally stream of consciousness and luckily a fun story came bursting forth – full-blown like Athena from Zeus’ forehead. Okay, that’s a highbrow bit of analogy, I admit, but really – this was an incredible experience. Over 3 days, I only left my RV twice – once to take the garbage out and once to treat myself to a birthday dinner. Two hours, max. The rest of 72-hour period I was scribing my pea-picking heart out.

And it was again – pure joy. I laughed and smiled and was transported into the world of The Fearless Five (the gang of Twitter addicts in the book) and nary a worry in my own world. I was in The Zone, as Joe Montana used to say.

Thank goodness, I haven’t lost that feeling. I would have spent the rest of my life trying to get it back because I’ve never experienced anything like it. The ecstasy of writing, when it just flows, is as addictive as any drug. And it’s legal!