Opportunity Knocks and I’m Out Partying

Well, damn.

I just got invited to sell my book at “Walker-Stalker Con” in Georgia. It’s a zombie convention where the cast of The Walking Dead will be present to sign autographs.

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The bad news? I’m a groomsman at a wedding that weekend!

And I got a call from the Ft Hood PX (only the largest US military shopping outlet in the world) asking if I’d do a Halloween signing. Which, if not for the wedding, I could do an epic roadtrip and hit both. Pack the Prius full of books and make it a thing.

Obviously, I want to be part of the wedding (love you Brian & Emily!), I just wish they didn’t conflict. The gods mock us mortal men!

Positive spin: my ‘little book’ is starting to get some big attention. There’s always next time, right? Right?!

 

Freebies, Fans, & Pirates: Part Duex

This is a followup to Part One.

First, I’d like to address the issue of piracy. If you’re not too concerned with reading Part One, here’s the context: Someone has ripped the ebook version of INFECTED.

Depp Pirate
No, not him.
The dread pirate neckbeard.
That’s more like it.

I know that movie studios have a hell of a time dealing with piracy, but this is for something self-published so I’m kind of on my own. Let me reiterate: No guild, lawyer, etc. I’m a small independent ship out on the seas. No guns with which to shoot pirates.

Here are my options (as I see them):
1) Look into sending a DMCA Takedown Notice and start the game of virtual whack-a-mole. They put something up, I tell them to take it down, repeat.
2) Post a comment on the page. “Glad you are interested in INFECTED! If you really like it, I ask that you support an indie author and tell ten friends to buy it, leave me an amazon review, and (if you can spare it), fork over the $3.99 to buy a legit copy.”
3) Shut up and be happy that people are noticing my book.

I realize that some high-profile self-publishers think piracy may actually help sales, but I can’t say I agree. Right now, there are 2-3 illegal downloads of my book per day on this piracy site. Compare that with the 1-2 legitimate sales I get each day (which I am eternally grateful for–thank you, readers!). As one friend put it, “Well, definitely not number three. Maybe if you were typing this in your mansion. That sucks.” So I think I can cross #3 off right away.

I will say, however, that it does feel like fighting back would be akin trying to punch a school of fish. And after looking into it, I see that the website is hosted out of Poland, so #1 is off the table. As I understand it, US law (DMCA) only applies in the US.

So, how about #2? I believe most people who pirate TV or movies seem to mainly be impatient. Take, for example, the fact that Game Of Thrones was the most pirated TV show last year and many say that if they could pay for HBO streaming without getting cable, they would. My book is already published and (was) widely available, so my particular crowd of pirates must just be cheap. Therefore the chance of lost sales is pretty low…

I tried to post in the site’s comment section, and that probably would’ve been the end of it. But (surprise, surprise) comments appear to be disabled. So I sent the host site a nice message, hoping they’d take it down (they haven’t yet, nor have they replied). I also flagged the URL to google, so hopefully that will kill its SEO rating.

I had to do something. In the end, I couldn’t justify the piracy in my head. If I wanted to give the book away for free, I would, but the choice should be mine.

In fact, now that INFECTED is only available as an ebook through Amazon (the paperback is still widely available), you can get it for FREE if you’re an Amazon Prime member. If not, it’s still cheaper than a Subway footlong.

Last thought: For the time being, if you don’t see this, it is most likely a pirated copy:

Go ahead, Click Me!
Go ahead, Click Me!

Now then. Let’s round off this post with a positive thought.

Yesterday I was approached by my first ever twitter fan account. I’m flattered, of course, but it was also a much needed reminder. A reminder of what? That when I put in the extra effort, my readers notice.

Other authors I’ve talked to seem to think the best idea is to split apart a traditional novel into bite-sized chunks: maybe three books at 30k words each. This way you can sell them each separately, and you’ll be noticed more since you have a series and not just one book.

I’ve been called crazy for making INFECTED three books in one. It’s somewhere around 115k words and easily could have been INFECTED: Part 1, 2, and 3. But I believe that readers will appreciate not being manipulated and that (eventually) a superior product will rise to the top.

If you liked INFECTED, this is the #1 fan site out there...
If you liked INFECTED, this is the #1 fan site out there…

It appears to be working. Now I need to get back to writing Click Your Poison #2 before all this fan love goes to my head.

Amazon Makes the Best Kool-Aid

My walls have been kicked down. Oh Yeah!
My walls have been kicked down. Oh Yeah!

It is with bittersweet anticipation that I announce INFECTED will be only available on Amazon.com very soon. Some of you are nook users or buy using itunes, kobo, etc — if you’ve been waiting to get the book, do so now. I’ll leave it active for another week or so. If you already bought a copy from another site, don’t worry, you’ll still have your book on your ereader.

Why go exclusive? If you haven’t heard of KDP Select, allow me to sum it up for the layperson: Amazon offers benefits for those who go exclusive. Most notably, five promotional free-giveaway days per 90 days of exclusivity. What? Giving away your book for free is a benefit? It is — and I’ll explain that in a moment. You’re also allowed to lend the book to Amazon Prime members, which makes it free for them to read (Amazon still pays you) and that sounds like a real win-win for readers and authors.

I already have two short stories available through KDP Select, and this week I’m using all five of my giveaway days on “Corporate Zombie” a short story. Please, check it out and download it free:

Click me. I'm FREE this week only.
Click me. I’m FREE this week only.

I’ll report back on the success of my “Corporate Zombie” giveaway later, but even now it’s being downloaded by new readers. I’ve already had half as many downloads this morning as I’ve had *total* sales, and that’s by just tweeting about it. Sure, it’d be nice if those were paying customers, but not many people buy short stories and I’m happy just to have it read. Plus, when you look at the short, it tells you that people who’ve purchased “Corporate Zombie” have also purchased INFECTED and the main benefit is that (I hope) people will like the story and want to check out my book. Cross some fingers for me.

It’s always seemed counter-intuitive to me to go exclusive with one platform, especially when the intended benefit from such an action is ease of giving your work away for free. Indie publishing, if you’re doing it right, can get expensive. I’ve spent money trying to make INFECTED a professional product, and if I’m paying a copyeditor, cover artist, formatter, etc — Don’t I want to try and earn some of that back? Aren’t you devaluing your own work by giving it away for free? Yes and no. I firmly believe that if you want something to be permanently free, the best place for it is your own website. But a free promotion gets… complicated.

After reading these two articles, I can no longer debate the power of a free promotion:

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I’m planning a giveaway of INFECTED to coincide with the release of the next book in the series. Since I’m (hopefully) only 3-4 months away from releasing Click Your Poison #2, I need to go exclusive. Much like the second article I posted, I’ll be transparent about my success and share with you how it goes.

So… thoughts? Good idea? About time? Noooooooo? What do you think? I’d love to hear from you in the comments. And if you’re going to download “Corporate Zombie” — Enjoy!

My Big Week in Texas

Hey, that's me!
Hey, that’s me!

If you follow me on twitter, goodreads, facebook, or have checked out my “events” tab in the last month, you probably know I went to Ft Hood, TX for a book signing (Or, to be more accurate, I went to Texas for my sister’s wedding and scheduled a book signing around the same time. Congrats Melissa and Craig!). Well, for a self-published author, this was a big week.

Knowing it would be a 3-day signing event, but not knowing what to expect, I ordered 3 boxes of books (24 each) and brought the 10 I had sitting at home, just because I was feeling optimistic. So, with 82 books, I was hoping I wouldn’t have to leave too many at my parents’ house.

First stop was to our hometown newspaper, where I was interviewed. I’m still new enough to the game where little things like this are novel and exciting. If you like, you can read the article here.

Source: “Heights High School grad pens zombie book” from KDHnews.com

Next stop? I’d heard that Hastings has a “local author” section, so I decided to give it a try and see if I could leave a few copies there. Much to my surprise, not only was I accepted at Hastings in Killeen, but I was placed on the “zombie” shelf right up front as well as out in the general “horror” section. Whoa! That in itself was a huge life event–my first brick-and-mortar store.

Make Your Choice
Make Your Choice
Note to self, stop having an "S" last name.
Note to self, stop having an “S” last name.

Then there was the signing. My sister Alison had the idea to dress up like a zombie on Saturday, and my other sisters soon caved to the peer pressure. After all, I offered a free t-shirt and a professional makeup job. I’d play Friday straight, have my zombies with me on Saturday, then offer a sale on Sunday in hopes of reducing my inventory. I needed to leave some books behind for Hastings, but not too many…

IMAG0311

Friday, day 1: People were very receptive to INFECTED! In fact, I sold 21 books–almost a full box. Not bad, maybe I could sell the same on Sunday and try for a full 30 on Saturday when my zombies were with me. That would leave 10 books for Hastings. My nervous fears that I’d be ignored for three days were proving to be unfounded. I even met some very nice people who were excited for me to sign a book for either themselves or a zombie fan in their family. At lunch, my fortune cookie sagely reminded me:

Whoever wants to reach a distant goal must take small steps.”

Saturday, day 2: Thanks so much to my sisters–love you guys! The book sold like hotcakes. There was often a queue at my signing table, zombie fans eager for a book and a photograph with our crazy family. I sold 47 books. I had to tell my family members not to buy any for themselves, otherwise I’d be in danger of selling out. I had already dropped off  9 at Hastings, so I was left with only 5 left for Sunday… gulp.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Don't worry, my family scares me too.
Don’t worry, my family scares me too.

Sunday, day 3: I sold out in about an hour. Boy, did I underestimate. I should’ve brought two more boxes at least. I think I could’ve hit Friday’s numbers at least, then I would’ve had some left over for Hastings after I left. Instead, I had to direct disappointed would-be customers to either this store or amazon.com. After checking with Hastings, turns out they sold out of my book as well–making it their #1 book for the week. Even beating out “50 Shades of Grey”! Granted, E.L. James wasn’t in Killeen promoting like I was, but it still felt like victory.

This was an appreciated confidence booster, and it was fun to be a minor celebrity for a weekend, but I still have lots of work to do before “Click Your Poison” is a household name. So what’s next? Of course there’s book #2 to work on, but I’ve also been invited to come back to Fort Hood any time, and I probably will. Maybe for book #2? Maybe around Halloween when the zombie craze is at its peak? In the meantime, I need to ship more books to Hastings and see about getting other stores out there to carry INFECTED. Maybe there’s a Big Week in California in my future? Who knows–but wherever life takes me, the future looks bright.

Thanks to all who attended!

I Found Your Christmas Present!

A zombie pandemic, the gift that keeps on giving:

A very special THANK YOU to Mike Beeson, the talented filmmaker who put together this trailer. Yes, INFECTED is now out in paperback. I know I said it would be out for Thanksgiving, but I wanted to make the announcement when I released this spot. The more astute of you may have noticed that the paperback has been linked to the Amazon page for a couple of days now.

Now go bring some Christmas joy to the zombie lover in your life and Get INFECTED!

This Book Could Save You!

Recently, I was paid my highest compliment as a writer to date. I was told by a reader, “Your book got me through Hurricane Sandy.”

With the paperback edition, you can take INFECTED anywhere.

Wow, huge. I’m not sure there’s any greater calling for fiction. If there are three goals for entertainment I see them as: 1) Help escape the dreary or the mundane, 2) Inspire & foster creativity, and 3) Teach us something about the world. I’m honored to have met #1 for at least one reader.

To say, “Thanks!” to all my readers, I’m hosting a giveaway before INFECTED releases in paperback this Thanksgiving. Less than 1.5 days left to enter! And in the Holiday spirit, share share share this link: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Enter to win at Rafflecopter or on Facebook.

Okay, maybe it won’t really save you. Unless the zombie apocalypse happens just as described. But in that case, you’re welcome.

Mind-blowing Fiction

Looking for something to blow your mind? Look no further.

Reading the new INFECTED paperback has been known to kill boredom.
Use at your own discretion.

Only 3.5 days left in the giveaway. In case you missed yesterday’s announcement: INFECTED will be out in paperback just in time for Thanksgiving, and to give “Thanks!” to all my readers, I’m hosting a giveaway. And in the Holiday spirit, share share share this link: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Enter to win at Rafflecopter or on Facebook.