Category Archives: self publishing

Are readers dictating e-Book prices

Everyone wants a good deal, especially if something is free and e-Readers may be dictating the future of e-Books. There are many sites devoted to getting cheap if not free books. I will not list them all, they are easy to find with Google magic. I subscribe to Book Bub and I can select what type of books I am interested in and everyday in my inbox are books, some for 99 cents, some for free. Some are $2.99-what to they think I am a millionaire. Being an avid reader and bargain consumer I love it. The cheap ones I mean.

Book Bub is one of the best and I don’t want to know how many sites like them are out there. As an indie e-book author on Amazon I am afraid to find out. But we just might be on the forefront of change, as who will spend $3.99 for an e-Book, especially by an unknown, when they can pick and choose great buys, some from famous authors by signing up for a newsletter, a newsletter that, in essence, does the search for you.

The original prices for my books were $2.99 because that is what everyone said at the time. It became the standard. Of course one must always wonder who THEY are. Are they The Hardly Enlightened Yahoos. It was, however, the prevailing accepted price. Then someone said it should be $3.99 because if you value your work, believe you have written good stories, then you should be paid accordingly to distance yourself from those $2.99 folk.

I thought about it, then changed the price. I did not notice any significant downturn in sales so kept it at the higher price. At some point I thought of reverting to the original price during a sluggish sales period, but I then read a blog that said once you raise the price it is not a good idea to go back as the readers who paid the higher price may feel cheated. It made sense, but I have to come to the opinion it doesn’t matter. In the end you must do what you feel is best, not what others say or think, no matter if you believe they-remember them- make sense.

But will it now make a difference? Is $2.99 now too high a price with so many savvy readers paying 99 cents, at the most $1.99 for quality books. There is a proliferation of sales and cheap e-Books, and the smart reader knows this and loves it. In the future indie authors may be squeezed out of the market  just as they are squeezed out from traditional publishing. I have no illusions of being a best selling writer, but a steady income  of mad money would be nice.

So what to do? This year I will advertise more, and I may revert to my old price (still percolating in my sub-human brain), but all of us Indie e-Book authors are facing important questions, none of which have to do with plot and structure.

On my Amazon page you will find my books at $3.99. Buy now before the price drops.

 

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Webinar thoughts for Indie writers-beware

We live in an information age, and there is too much information, much of it sounds good, until somebody points out an obvious truth that blows up what you thought was true, but then you wonder if the ‘new’ truth is accurate. For an indie writer writing e-Books I heard over and over you need to have lots of books on Amazon. But someone said, it does not matter how many books, it is a myth, you need to learn to market, that Amazon is a search engine, and you need to increase your ability to get searchers to your books, then somebody tells you, but . .  wait a  minute. Halt. I am getting confused here.

I have attended three webinars, all were free. I learned many things, but in two of the webinars, the hosts, who were writers themselves, had a lot to say about marketing, and if you are a writer I need not go into all of that, you have heard it before. While their information-what they would share of it-was good; it told you what to do, but not the fine points of how. That would of course cost you money, as much as $500 to $700 for their course module. I have no doubt it can be done if you follow what they say. It is not the work that bothers me, but there are two points to be made.

One is that many people will go all in, but not follow through over time. The exhilaration and excitement wears off. The second is that you have to ask yourself how many books must you sell to offset the cost of what I am buying. If you are sure you can sell a few hundred books, then go for it. It is also true that what works for some people will not work for everybody. It is impossible that everybody will succeed. Some succeed, others will do the same things, but fail.

I made a purchase at the first webinar I attended. It had little to do with marketing and strategy. It only cost about $90 and would position my books on the Internet with very creative web pages. It was something like a website. Unfortunately I don’t think people ever found it. I think the product had an un-search engine. I liked the pages I was able to create, but it was a waste of money in the end.

So yes, I am leery, but I am also leery of professional marketers and pitchmen. They talk a great game. In the end if you attend any webinars, or come across anyone or anything that promises a result you desire, remember to weigh the cost.

This book will cost only $3.99 on Amazon. So save hundreds of dollars today.

coyotemoon_silentmurder

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The strange birth of Otis Oglethorpe

The birth of Otis came not from a woman, and not in the usual method. He sprang from my brain cells. You see, Otis is a fictional character and following is how he got his name.

The story takes place in 1927, so using a name common to contemporary times won’t work. As a writer you need to search and find a name that resonates with the time period. I could use a common name, ones used decade after decade like Tom, Dick, and Harry, but those names are kind of boring-sorry guys, nothing personal. If this were a King Arthur era tale, those names, of course, would not do. You see what I am getting at, so the first name that came to mind was Otis. To me it sounds like a laborer from another time period, or perhaps a farmer; Otis is not a name I hear much anymore.

I needed a last name and could not think of one, until that is, I sat down to watch a football game on television and the Nano-second I sat down, the name Oglethorpe sprung full blown into my consciousness. I had to go to my room and jot the name down, otherwise I would forget, and then I returned to the NFL.

There are many ways to name a character. If you are of the literate mind, you can name a character to reference something critics and those ‘in the know’ will pick up on; for example naming a willful adult male Sawyer after the Mark Twain boy named Tom. Often the references are quite obtuse, referencing a Greek or Roman God, something from Norse myth, or a stray cat.

If say you want to have character who is cold-hearted, the last name could be Winter; if you want a character who has a happy disposition, Sunny would work as a caricature for a female, but something more even keel would be Sonny, for both male of female. There was a famous NFL quarterback named Sonny Jorgensen, so the name works for a male as well. The name can fit the character of the character.

There are many things to keep in mind for a character, such as nationality, the sound of the name, and even length should come into play. To me Otis Oglethorpe has a rhythm to it, it flows off the tongue despite the awkward looking last name.

In my novel in progress this is how he is introduced in a first draft, no doubt to be revised:

“Otis Oglethorpe, about thirty with a lived in face, waded into the Skookumchuck River and washed the blood from his hands. Nothing he could do about the bloody sleeves, but he sank his arms to the elbows into the clear water anyway and scrubbed them, hoping to wash the blood away.

He thought about stealing a boat at Gig Harbor or there about, but decided to take the long way, driving from Shelton up towards Bremerton, before turning right and heading south through Key Peninsula until he reached Home. Many people honed in on Home, a beacon to the wayward thinkers of the world, the originators, the oddballs, the free thinkers, the loonies, and perhaps, a hideout for those on the run. He walked back to his dirty, dinged up Ford and drove off.”

Cut to a man finding a head on a grave. I think it fair to say readers will immediately suspect Otis of murder. But is he? Or just a red herring? That is a matter for another blog.

coyotemoon_silentmurder

 Otis does not appear in “Silent Murder” but the man looking for him is. You can find the e-book at Amazon

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Amazon’s one side policy on book reviews.

Indie and self published writers flock to Amazon to publish their books like out of work actors answering an open call audition. It is our chance for fame, wealth, move deals, or at least-and more important-good reviews.

But what is wrong with Amazon’s policy on book reviews?

It is good in the sense that they aim for honest reviews by screening out paid reviews. I would never pay for a review, nor should anyone. They also screen out friends and relatives-and yes their Big Brother algorithms will  find out. But they also screen out reviews for reasons that make no sense. I had one disappear, a four start review for “Loonies in Hollywood.” I have no idea who wrote, it but I did find the review two years later on Goodreads. So I did what someone suggested in a blog. I copied it and also copied my other good reviews and saved them in Word and posted some on my website.

No system is not without flaws, but Amazon ignores something that they should monitor, for writers and for themselves. There are trolls who buy an eBook, download it, maybe even read it, and trash it in a review, then get a refund. This is their idea of fun. There are also those who seek revenge on a ‘friend’ by trashing their books. 

I am not saying Amazon should weed out bad reviews. I have only one 1 star review. I don’t like that, but having read the review it is clear he or she misread the ending. It happens. But the reviews must be legitimate, and that includes trolls whose hobby is trashing authors for fun. If Amazon can weed out paid reviews, weed out reviews by friends-not always accurate by the way-then they should be working both sides of reviews. If fairness is what Amazon claims to strive for then they must weed out trolls as well as paid reviews.

 

My Amazon page with I hope no more disappearing reviews

 

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Why I love my book and the magic of Charlie Faust

I advertised my e-Book “Loonies in the Dugout” in my baseball blog about the Seattle Mariners, Balls and Strikes. I happen to love this story about Charlie Faust and the 1911 New York Giants. There is an odd connection between Faust and a pitcher Rube Marquard that may have gotten Marquard into the Hall of Fame and that is what this blog is about and why I find the story interesting. The book is not just baseball, but a satire on fame and celebrity as seen through the eyes of a fictional character on the team, one Chet Koski.

Rube Marquard spent 18 years in the majors and though he pitched for Brooklyn, Cincinnati and Boston of the National league he is known for his time with John McGraw’s New York Giants. From 1911-1913 he was arguably the best pitcher in the NL, along with teammate Christy Mathewson of course. In those three years he went, 24-7, 26-11, and 23-10. He was 73-28 in those three years. His career record was 201-177 and if you do the math the other 15 years he was 128-149. Not exactly a Hall of Fame career and many think he does not belong.

But there is something remarkable, perhaps magical, about those three years with Giants, something that defies common sense, and that was his lucky charm. It was not a lucky coin, nor a rabbit’s foot, nor horseshoe, but one Charlie Faust.

In the summer of 1911 Charlie walked onto the field in St. Louis where the Giants were warming up before a game with the Cardinals. He told John McGraw that a fortune teller that he would pitch the Giants to the pennant. To this day nobody knows if Charlie a country rube, mentally challenged, or a bit loony, but he became the Giants mascot, though he often got distracted by his lack of contract, leaving the team, or appearing on the New York vaudeville stage regaling people with his impression of baseball players.

But the truth of the matter is that when Charley was with the Giants in uniform sitting on the bench or warming up in the bullpen, they won over 80% of their games and during one stretch it was over 90% and the biggest beneficiary was Rube Marquard. During that period, Marquard was 33-3 and two of those losses came when Charlie was absent.

Baseball players back then were highly superstitious and Marquard believed he pitched better when Charlie was there. Of course he was right, and that power of believe no doubt gave him confidence and with confidence anxiety is abated; no tension, confident in victory, Rube loved Charlie’s presence.

Without those three great years Rube would not have made the hall of Fame and without that stretch with Charlie he would not have had those three great years. As it was, Rube was not elected until 1979 when he was 92. He would die the next year.

But there is one interesting note for those two players. Both Marquard and Faust were born on October 9th, Charlie in 1980 and Marquard in 1886. Could there be some sort of symbiotic karma with the two who shared a birthday that gave Rube his obvious luck? Faust died in 1915, Fort Steilacoom, Washington, in a sanatorium, from tuberculosis. In the 100th year of Faust’s birth year Marquard died. Maybe it was just in the numbers.

The e-Book on Amazon is here. It has two reviews, both four stars.

 

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A serendipitous discovery in writers research

I don’t outline a novel before I start. For some reason, if I worked everything out in advance, I would have trouble figuring it all out. I would get lost wondering about the whole thing. It also takes a lot of time and I would rather use the time to actually create something, and an outline is not creative to me. I find it far more fun-and inspiring to me-to have a beginning with my main characters, but not know what is going to happen, and in the case of my work in progress, not knowing who the murderer will be.

I don’t know where the murder takes place-not yet-but the head of a woman was found on a grave in a cemetery in a small town in southwest Washington in 1927. The cousin of my amateur detective works in a bank. I looked through the city directory of the time and found her a nice bank to work in. I also found that two lawyers worked in the same two story building and jotted down their names in case one of my suspects needed one.

And here is where my serendipitous research landed a wonderful surprise. I decided that the grave of Hugh Pemberton, on whose grave the head was found, was murdered by an unknown killer in 1926, and that he had been a World War one veteran. Eight years before in 1919 this small town had a large parade on the anniversary of the Armistice and this fictional Pemberton was in the parade. It became a national story when Wobblies opened fire on the veterans  and killed four young men, one of whom was an All-American football player at the University of Washington. And low and behold, he had the same last name of the lawyers that worked in the bank.

It turns out the murdered young man was the son of one of the lawyers, one that was the city attorney at the time, who said, despite his son being murdered by Wobblies, there was no legal reason to run the Wobblies out of town. A very brave stance to take in a town that was divided for decades by what happened.

It was a wonderful thread to weave into the story about the parade-I had a reason to write the scene when a barber talks about it to my lead character who is from Los Angeles-and about the son and father, and about what my fictional Hugh Pemberton did during the parade with another true character who met an unfortunate end.

This is the kind of discovery during research that drives the story forward and perhaps, if not creating a red herring, leads to a surprise twist at the end of the story. Of course I don’t know what that is or where everything is going.  But my characters and my research will provide more moments of serendipity, I am sure of it.

It is this type of lucky connection that spurs me on and that is why I don’t outline. I love discovery.

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why e-book errors are here to stay

The sentence below is an excerpt from a best selling author’s e-book. I will not, of course, out of respect, list his name. The scene has a woman in a car and a male approaching the car who has exposed himself, thus the term yanking.

“It seemed so absurd that she started to laugh, but she thought better of it as he strode up the door other car and began yanking in her direction.”

An obvious mistake here. Does the author mean the ‘other car door’ or does he mean ‘door of her car.’ It makes a bit more sense that ‘other’ should be ‘of her’ but of course that is my thinking.

I do not know if the author did the formatting, or his agent, or an agent’s assistant, or if it came from the publisher. No matter, because a proofreader missed it, and the author should have proofread. For all I know he may have and missed it. I found another error, but it is not my intent to point out everything I may find, but to indicate that errors are going to be found in e-books. And we must live with them.

Proofreading, especially by the author, is far more time consuming than the actual writing. In my case with my latest novel,  “Silent Murder” which is by no means an exception, I proofread in Word.doc six times, then sent the file to my formatter and once it was converted to Amazon friendly Kindle, I checked through my Kindle app and found more errors; usually a missing period or quotation mark, or ‘ instead of ” and so on. In the Kindle I went through another six readings, finding errors I never saw before. What? Where did this come from? How did I not notice?

It is brutal. There are digital gremlins. I am sure of it.

The point being in one of my reviews of an earlier book the reviewer mentioned a few grammatical errors, but they did not interfere with his or her enjoyment of the story. It still bothers me that the book has a few errors. But the author reaches the point when he/she has gone through the readings so many times, with time off in between to clear your mind, that one must let it go to keep what sanity you have left.

So I apologize to anyone who finds a mistake along the way. I did my best, but we live in a new world of story telling, and if best selling authors can publish e-books with mistakes and grammatical errors, then we must forgive. I wish we could all write perfect books, but readers and proofreaders who read a book before publication, along with the author, and those insidious digital gremlins, will miss something.

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