Saturday, June 28, 2014

Stir Things Up to Boost Summer Sales


It's no secret that summer represents a sales challenge for authors. People travel, take vacations and spend more time outside.  This translates to fewer hours in front of the computer shopping.  Two years ago I was caught totally off guard by the summer sales doldrums.  In March of 2012 both Boyfriend From Hell and Earth Angel landed in  Amazon's top 10 Children's and YA ebooks.  Both books were selling well.  In May and June with no promotion I still sold 500 books, no sweat.  Then July hit and--SCREECH! the bottom fell out. Man, was I depressed.  Sales eventually returned in the fall, but summer was brutal. Last summer (2013) I made sure to have some promo activity (a sale or contest) throughout the summer to help keep sales from slipping too much.

Fast forward to 2014.  I must admit to you this has not been a good year for me.  The final book in The Falling Angels Saga, Falling, was delayed from debuting in November of 2013 to March of this year. It was totally my own fault. I missed the holiday season because I got side-tracked on a TV project.  Despite lots of promotion the new book did not sell well.  That was a first for me. Another first, sales across the entire Falling Angels franchise were in free fall, falling from 500 to 400 to less than 100 books a month by May.



By mid May, knowing that summer was coming, I knew we had to do something.  My publisher (Chris Meeks of White Whisker) and I had been putting our heads together since March with new promo ideas.  We'd see small blips during the promo periods and then sales would go flat again.  So I approached Chris with the radical idea of making Boyfriend From Hell perma-free.  In a long email, I made a compelling argument on how we needed to breath new life into the franchise by creating new fans.  While Chris didn't respond to the idea of perma-free, he did think making Boyfriend From Hell free for the summer was worth a shot.  Heck, we weren't selling any books anyway.  The giveaway began on June 18th, ten days ago, and so far things are going very well.

As of this morning we're up to 6200 free downloads.  More importantly, we're selling books across the franchise.  The final two books in the franchise have been priced at $5.99, a bit more than I would have liked, but surprise, surprise, they're selling.  At the start of the promotion no book was ranked below 100,000.  Heaven Sent and Falling were hanging out around 350, 000.  I don't have exact sales figures, but I know we've sold over 100 books in the 10 days.  Not great, but far better than where we were. Here are my rankings as of this moment.

Boyfriend From Hell (free): #194 in the free store #1 Teen Horror

Earth Angel ($2.99): #40,562
Heaven Sent: ($5.99): #52,987
Falling: ($5.99):  #65,903

Every book in the franchise is now selling.  Every book has been ranked under #100,000 for the last 5 days. I feel as more new readers get around to reading the free books they've downloaded that trend will continue.  If we give away 10,000 free books, and five percent of those readers convert to sales across the franchise (500 readers Xs 3 books), that's 1500 sales during the slow summer months.  If two and a half percent convert, that's 750 sales. Not great, but a lot better than I'd been doing.  It also represents 500 new hard core fans for my next book.  I'll report on my progress in another two weeks.

Boyfriend From Hell is now Free

I know many authors don't have 4 books available and can't afford to give one book away for three months. The idea is not to do what I did, but to do something daring.  Change up your promo patterns.  Hold an oddly interesting contest, package several chapters and give those away. If you try something and it doesn't work, try something else.  But don't stand pat.  Summer sales doldrums can be brutal.  Have fun while trying to think your way out of it.  Oh... and if you haven't read Boyfriend From Hell--guess what?  It's now free.

Keep reading-Keep Writing!




Monday, June 16, 2014

An Update from Sal Conte



Hello my Peeps. It's me, Sal.  My "Pal" E. has allowed me to use this platform to talk to those of you who haven't yet started reading our writing collaboration, The Memory Giver.  What's the matter with you people?  Do you realize I haven't published a word since 2010s short story, The Toothache Man, and before that, nothing, nada, not one word out of me since the 80s.  Most of you were little babies back then, am I right? So if I'm writing now it must be because I have a whole lot to say.  It was back in the 80s that E. left me for dead, but I promised I would go into that here.  What I do want to say is The Memory Giver is turning out to be a fun collaboration.  It's a nice combo of our styles:  creepy horror with some light-hearted romance and a kick-ass thriller.



Chapters have been going up on Wattpad Sunday evenings for a few weeks now. Two more went up last evening. Many of you don't like to read in short busrts, so now's a good time to jump in as there's a nice chunk of story up there just waiting to be read.  It's enough for you to get a sense if you want to stay with it or not, and after you've read it, I'm sure you will.

Just click on the WATTPAD link, sign up and you're all set to follow along.   If you download the FREE WATTPAD MOBILE APP you can easily follow along on your phone or tablet.  What's more fun than creepy horror all summer long?  Free creepy horror all summer long.  Sign-up now.







Monday, June 2, 2014

FREE Horror All Summer Long

HOT FRIGHTS IN THE SUMMER TIME

Here's the book description of my latest work.  Scroll down and find out how you can get it free.

Adrian “A.D.” Dawson.  Loving son and brother.  Deceased. 1972-1986

Amazon_cover
When Turtle Dawson’s 14 year-old brother returns after being dead for two years, he brings with him fond memories of the old days, and a chance at redemption for the entire family. But there's something different about A.D., something dark and sinister, and if Turtle continues to do as A.D. tells him, he could wind up in a world of hurt, or worse, he could wind up dead himself.

Is Turtle’s once loving older brother a giving spirit? a vengeful ghost? or is he something else all-together? That's what overweight and under-confident Turtle must to discover.  He needs to find out soon, lives are at stake, including his and that of his very first girlfriend, Rita Calderon.

And who or what is the Teddy Bear?

Written in my typical page-turning style, The Memory Giver is a sweet, romantic thrill-ride. Like most memorable tales of horror, this book is rich in character, and is as much about redemption as it is about the spooky stuff.

Looking for an unforgettable, horrific treat? Read on, dear reader, read on.

**Book Blurb**

The mist played against the moonlight like dust motes in the air, yet these motes hung with deadly purpose.  The mist drifted toward him, a slow moving cloud.  As it neared, the room grew even colder. Turtle hunched the covers up around himself to keep from shivering.

“Close your eyes,” the voice in the mist whispered.  “Close your eyes and remember the good times.”
The chilling mist was hanging just in front of him now.  

“Okay,” Turtle said softly.  A part of him wanted to run.  This was ghostly stuff and he was afraid of ghosts.  Yet the comforting words relaxed him.

Turtle closed his eyes and shivered as the mist split into two wishbone-like streams, travelling up his nostrils.  He breathed in deeply, a wintry chill stinging the membrane in the back of his nose.  It burned, oh, how it burned.

In the vein of  Stephen King's The Green Mile, The Memory Giver is a tale filled with the magical wonder found in memories. It's a story of  love, loss, adventure, horror, and ultimately revenge.

The Memory Giver will be available in chapter-by-chapter installments on Wattpad  beginning Monday June 9th, 2014--FREE.  The freebies will run all summer long. To follow along, go to Wattpad.com now. Under the "Discover" box at the top of the page, type in The Memory Giver. That will take you to my page where you can follow along. 

The beauty of launching our latest  WIP on Wattpad is you can leave comments, suggestions, or tell us how you think we're doing.  We're offering it for free hoping you'll read along, tell your friends.  And when the fully edited novel comes out next winter, We'd love for you to grab a copy.

To help whet your appetite for this romantic, horror, thriller, I've made an audio recording of the prologue in two parts.  Yes, I did it myself, so don't look for Lawrence Fishburn. It's crude--you can hear a few slips and background sounds.  But isn't that part of the charm of a work in progress? You can download part 1 of the prologue now: The Memory Giver Download    Or listen to it right here.  It's fourteen minutes, so grab a cup of coffee or a glass of wine and enjoy the latest by me, E. Van Lowe and my horror writing alter-ego, Sal Conte, read by me--E.



On the recording, I mention that part II will be on iTunes.  It won't be because I couldn't figure out how to get it there. Instead, it's right here.  It's only about 10 minutes.  If you don't have much time, just listen to part II. Download : The Memory Giver pt 2 Download,  or listen here:


Monday, May 12, 2014

It Could Have Been A Horror Story



It's no secret that horror author, Sal Conte, has no love for me.  The way he puts it, I left him for dead on a beach in Malibu California, as detailed in his October, 2011 guest post on my blog: A Few Words From Sal.   Sal has tweeted about my neglect, as well as his distaste for me, saying quite openly that I took his career away from him and he plans on getting it back.   As the summer draws near, and Sal's latest project gets closer to its launch date, I'm sure we'll be hearing more from Sal.  His feud with me is good marketing. The ironic part of all this is that Sal Conte is my horror writing alter-ego.  Yes, I am Sal, and Sal is me.



Last December I got the idea that Sal and I should write a book together.  Writing with the side of my brain that hates me could have been a horror story, but so far, the book is coming along splendidly. The good news for you is I've decided to release the book this summer in chapters on Watpad for FREE.  Throughout the summer I'll be downloading chapters for you to follow along.  If you're not already a Watpad member, please click on the Watpad link, and after you've signed up, follow me: E. Van Lowe.  Watpad will alert you each time I post an installment.

I created a little video to introduce readers to me, Sal and the book.  The book is entitled The Memory Giver.  I'm billing it as a romantic, horror thriller. Please take a look at the short video below , then follow the link in the video to my website where I have a neat surprise for you.






Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Are You Following The Fear?


Several weeks ago, I read a blog post by marketing professor, Ann Handley, entitled Follow the Fear.  In the post, Handley recounts how she was invited to speak in front of a large group and originally turned it down.  She didn’t turn it down because she was busy, or because she’s afraid of speaking in front of large groups.  Ann makes her living speaking in front of groups.  She turned it down because the subject they asked her to speak on—herself—was scary. 

The piece got me thinking about how many times along the road of life I’ve stayed on the path of comfort.  I can tell you that leaving New York and moving to Southern California, where I knew one person, a distant cousin, to begin a career in writing of all things, was not comfortable for me.  Yet, it’s my career that’s given me everything I have.  Most times, when I’ve ventured outside my comfort zone, good things have happened.  Even the idea of putting my TV career on hold to write a young adult novel turned out well.  I wouldn’t be here chatting on this blog if I hadn’t ventured outside the old comfort zone. 
  
Lately, especially since I’ve been getting older and more set in my ways, I’ve been opting for lots of comfort.  Reading Ann Handley’s piece has given me pause.  If I truly want greater success, I must be willing to do what those Star Trek guys did and go where no man had gone before… or at least, where I haven’t gone before.  My question to you is how willing are you to venture outside your comfort zone?  I hope this short piece makes you think about it.  Greater success can be waiting just around the corner, but you’ll probably have to go beyond your comfort zone to find it. 

I hope this piece makes those of you who are fat and happy in your comfort zones, think. And here’s the link to Ann Handley’s blog post, complete with video from the speaking engagement she originally turned down. I hope it inspires you just as it has inspired me.  Thanks: FollowThe Fear


I’d love to hear from you about your own comfort zone challenges.


Keep Reading-Keep Writing!


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

My First Animated Video

WHAT????

You still haven't tried the first book in the Falling Angels Saga--Boyfriend From Hell-- yet?  Have you seen the reviews?

Serenity said:
        I read this book thinking that it would be a good read but no, it was much more than that. This book was amazing.

Tee said:
      Boyfriend From Hell is one of those stories that captures you from the very beginning. I knew I was going to love it right from the start...

"Reading Junkie" said:
      I love YA books and I sometimes roll my eyes at some of the stuff out there but I really liked this one. It kept me glued to the pages (screen?) and then when it was over, I immediately bought the next one in the series.


If great reviews aren't enough, I have four more rock solid reasons you should try Boyfriend From Hell now, and I created a short animated video to explain them to you.   Please take a minute to watch the video and find out why you should push The Falling Angels Saga, starting with Boyfriend From Hell to the top of your to read list.  Watch the animated short video now:



Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Story Door



I recently read a post about Stephen King in The Atlantic telling how he spends months or even years crafting that most important opening sentence: Writing Opening Sentences.  This got me thinking about my own craft.  I don't spend as much time on the opening sentence as I do on where I choose to enter a story--the story door.  Where you come into a story, can make or break your story for the reader.

In the epic poetry I studied as a literature major in college, the rule is to start in the midst of things.  Never, ever start at the beginning.  This was one of the first things I learned on my journey to becoming a professional writer.  I soon discovered, most great works follow this age-old rule.  Star Wars starts in the midst of a battle.  The Godfather starts in the midst of a wedding.  Memento starts in the midst of a chase... or am I chasing him (you have to know the movie to get that one).

Some stories, however, start with what we in show biz call "a handle."  In short, a handle is something you tag on, but it's not needed.  It's nice to have a handle on that pot because it helps when picking it up while hot... but you don't actually need it.

I chose a long, colorful handle, or preamble, to set my latest project, The Memory Giver in motion.  I got the idea from Stephen King, who often creates a folksy style before getting to the meat of things. Yet, I decide to drop the handle, in fact, I dropped the entire opening, because I felt it took too long to get the story going.  Some of my favorite authors are quite good at using them.  I, however, felt it slowed me down, and I have an overwhelming fear of losing readers.  So, I dropped the handle/preamble for a more traditional (EVL) type opening.  This afternoon, I came across the original opening  and thought, hey, I like this opening.   So, I thought I'd share it with you.  Here goes:

It Started With A Curveball
         
The curveball is one of the greatest inventions on God’s green earth.  Watching a perfectly thrown curveball twisting through the air in mind-bending boomerang-like fashion is akin to watching one of the world’s, great natural wonders.   It’s like coming upon the Grand Canyon.   Look at that.  Why’s it there—who knows?  Just sit back and enjoy it.
          Fred Goldsmith claimed he was the first to throw a curveball on a sweltering summer day in August of 1870 at Capitoline Grounds in Brooklyn.  He called it his skewball.  Drove the batters nuts.  Of course, around the same time, Candy Cummings claims to have invented it as well.  Don’t ask.  Just sit back and enjoy it.
          At the height of its popularity the curveball entered the lexicon as a metaphor as in Oop, you just threw me a curveball, meaning, you just presented me with something I did not see coming… which leads me to our story.  It begins, with the throwing of a curveball—not a real curveball—we’ll leave those for the spaghetti-armed pitchers.  Our story begins with a metaphoric curveball. 
On of June 15th 1986, just past midnight, Phoebe McKenzie entered the bedroom of her daughter, Allison.  Pooh Bear's nightlite gave off a gentle glow, making the room seem warm and cozy.  Phoebe looks down on her daughter, so peaceful in sleep, and knows this may be the last peace the child has for quite some time. She kneels and shakes the girl gently.  “Shh.  Get your brother up.  We’re leaving.”


There you have it.  I hope you enjoyed it. You will never see that opening in print.  It turned out be a two day exercise for me/us.  No, it wasn't time wasted.  I get something out of everything I write--even the worst stuff. I think it's pretty good.  Still, you'll never see it in print.  Just here.  I'd like to hear what you think.  Like it or hate it, let me know.

One reason I wanted to share the opening with you is to use it as a preamble (story door) to my... I guess I should say our latest project.  As I said earlier, it's called The Memory Giver.  It's a horror/Thriller I'm currently writing with my horror writing alter ego, Sal Conte.  If you follow either of us on Twitter (@Evanlowe, @SalConte1) we'll both be talking about it in the weeks leading up to its debut.  The Memory Giver will be available for FREE in chapter-by-chapter installments several months before it goes on sale. If you'd like to know more about when you can start reading, stay tuned.  The first chapter should be available in a month or so.  Thanks for your time.

Keep Reading/Keep Writing!