Sunday, December 30, 2012

What Happened To Free Pt 2: Change or Die Pt 3

In my last post I told you how tiny Ty, the Beanie Baby company, used scarcity as a tool to distinguish themselves in the marketplace and become a billion dollar business.  Scarcity is the tool the Big 6 publishers have used for years.  By keeping most authors out of the market, and by controlling the number of books being published, the Big 6 had the market on lockdown.  Then along came Amazon with its "anyone can be a published author attitude" and pretty soon the Big 6 monopoly came tumbling down.  No wonder the Big 6 hates Amazon so much.  Amazon has single-handedly altered the way the public views buying books.

As I said in my last post, the KDP program of giving away your book on Amazon to stimulate sales was a good thing, but like all good things its effectiveness is coming to an end.  That doesn't mean it has to be the end of free ebooks.  Free is a great marketing tool... but so is scarcity.  Here's how you can use scarcity to improve your sales, grow your fanbase, and get some awesome reviews in the process.

Most of what I am about to say has been covered in several earlier posts, but today I am going to put it all together for you in one succinct post.  To begin, if you're an author and you're not on Goodreads, you need to sign up now.  Goodreads is an indie authors second most important marketing tool and it's free.  The reason you need to be on Goodreads is it's the best place to host a giveaway.  Goodreads is like Facebook for avid readers.  All you need to do is post your giveaway and they will do all the work to market it for you.  You can't beat that.

To host a giveaway, go to your Goodreads author dashboard, scroll down to giveaways and click.  Then click on "List a giveaway" (it should be on the upper right hand side) and you're in business.  Goodreads walks you through the rest of the process.  You can give away as many books as you like, but I only give away one.  Giving away just one book makes your book seem a lot more valuable--remember, we're working with scarcity here. 

The first day of your giveaway and the last two days Goodreads promotes it on lists: New giveaways the first day,and soon to be ending giveaways the last two days.  If you hold a 5 day giveaway, Goodreads will be promoting your book for you for 3 of the 5 days.  You can't beat that, either.  The only drawback is you have to give away a paper book (Goodreads is currently working to make ebooks part of the program).  If your book is ebook only, you can go to Createspace and print up a few hard copies just for giveaways.  The time and cost to set this up will be well worth it.  I've had as many as 1400 requests for a free book listed for just a few days.

In the end you've not only given away just one book, but now you have a list of readers who not only know about your book (Impressions) but who want to read your book.  I use this list to find qualified reviewers.  You can now message those who didn't win and offer them a free ecopy of your book in exchange for an Amazon review.  I did this with The Zombie Always Knocks Twice and garnered 10 excellent Amazon reviews in just a few weeks.

Finally, if you've given your book a compelling description, some of those who didn't win the giveaway will buy your book as soon as the contest is over.  So there you have it.  Just as Ty used scarcity to grow their business, and the Big 6 used scarcity to control the market, you, too, can use scarcity to grow your fanbase, your sales and your reviews.  And let's face it, you can't beat that with a stick.


Sunday, December 23, 2012

Have A Hollly Zombie Christmas

I want to wish all my friends, fans, frans and anyone who enjoys my blog a Merry Christmas and The Happiest of New Years. 

On Christmas Eve night, sleep tight, don't let the zombies bite.


Wednesday, December 19, 2012

What Happened to Free?: Change or Die Pt 2

In this, the second of my Change or Die posts for authors, I will address the subject of free ebooks.

In the mid 90s the cutest tiny plush toy began getting a foothold in the hearts of Americans.  You could find these little devils in office cubicles, on coffee tables, and even on car dashboards.  Beanie Babies came on the scene very quickly.  Suddenly everyone had one.  People lusted after the newest characters when they were released.  The tiny plush toys were only sold in small card and gift shops.  It wasn't uncommon back then to see little cardboard signs in gift shop windows touting "Beanie Babies In Stock."  That's because Beanie Babies seemed to be always out of stock.  And when a store got their hands on a tiny shipment, they were sold out within hours.  People waited in lines; people offered bribes to shop owners to let them know when a knew shipment was about to arrive.  America had simply gone crazy over Beanie Babies.

Enterprising companies began making knock-offs of the characters.  Not so much counterfeits (although there were many) but similar products that could be sold in larger department stores.  At first these knew knock-offs surged in popularity.  Beanie Baby-like plush toys were in abundance in my city of LA.  Yet after a few months, the knock-offs fell out of favor.  During this surge in knock-off popularity the Beanie Baby company (Ty) never veered from their business model: only make a few, only sell them in small stores.  They did not succumb to the urge to make more babies.  This strategy propelled Ty to become a tiny empire worth more than $ 6 billion.  Ty realized larger companies could have better designs, cheaper labor, better pricing, and easy availability.  Ty couldn't compete on that level, so they stuck with the only thing had going for them--scarcity.

Early in 2011 many authors began touting their success with Amazon's KDP program.  This program allowed them to give a book a away for free on Amazon for a few days.  The end result was always a wave of sales.  Free is a great marketing tool, and these early adaptors used it to rack up big sales.  By March there were over 3000 free ebooks on Amazon on any given day, as authors who'd heard about the free bonanza flocked to Amazon's KDP in hopes of big sales.

I heard about the program in April.  I begged my publisher to try it with one of my books for the summer.  In June we enrolled Boyfriend From Hell in the KDP program, and in our first giveaway we gave away over 10,000 free ebook copies... and sure enough, when we put the book back up for sale, my sales climbed.  I didn't achieve the amazing results I'd heard about, but it was good.  In a month, however, my sales had dropped back to their normal level.  We gave the book away again in August with less than stellar results.  In September my new publisher (Imajin) gave away my then new book, The Zombie Always Knocks Twice to disastrous results.  I'm sure the book and our marketing plan was part of the problem, but the real problem was clutter.  By June there were over 5000 free ebooks available on Amazon on any given day.  As of this past Monday there were 5587 free ebooks on Amazon.  647 new books were added since the day before.  Almost 700 new people were screaming "download my free book" on Monday. And guess what?  Most of them had disastrous results.  The 32 books that had 18 or more 4.0 + reviews made it onto a list.  The others didn't and probably won't.  Welcome to the world of the cluttered marketplace.

Are the days of free over? No, not by a long shot.  Free is a great marketing tool. But with at least 6 websites posting their free ebooks of the day each morning, it's hard to get seen through the clutter.  It's hard, but not impossible.  In my next post I'll tell you how to take a tip from the Beanie Baby company to distinguish your next free giveaway and make it more valuable. 


The statistics come from my publisher, White Whisker Books, who got them from Anthony Wessel at Digital Book Today.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Indie Authors: Change or Die Pt 1

I have so much I want to say that I'm afraid I may ramble, so I apologize in advance.

When I was a young man living in The Bronx, New York, I had an apartment in a lovely two family house on a beautiful tree-lined street (Yes, trees in The Bronx. Who knew?). The house had a garage, but we never used it to park our cars. That's because the family who owned the house had filled the garage with--excuse the term--crap. We kept the snow shovels at the lip of the garage so we could find them when we needed to dig out the driveway. To find anything else stored in that garage could take hours and sometimes even days.

I remember one time looking for a box I had stored there (Yes, I stored some of my own crap in the garage as well), it took me nearly an hour to find it. The box couldn't have been more than a few feet from the front of the garage, and yet it took forever to find it because of all the clutter.

I'm sure many of you can relate as you have your own clutter in drawers or closets or even your garage. The thing about clutter is, it makes it difficult to find things--even important things that you're looking for. Unfortunately for the modern author, indie or otherwise, this is what has occurred with today's book marketplace. It's filled with clutter. If it was difficult to market your books last year, this year is even more difficult because of the clutter. Now the holiday season is upon us, the perfect time of year to market our books. BUT BEWARE. There are probably 100,000 more books in the market this year than last year. Perhaps your new novel is one of them. So how can you get noticed with all this clutter?

The first thing I want to tell you as an indie author is that people don't buy books--they buy authors. They lust after Stephen King's or James Patterson's latest. If J.K. Rowling published a napkin fans would buy it. Why? Because your fans, like your friends, want to hear more from you. It is important to cultivate fans--especially in a cluttered marketplace. And I know some of you are thinking "but I'm not Stephen King." Well, I'm not either, and I probably won't ever get close to being like him. Most of us won't. And that's okay. Anyone can cultivate fans. But you can't if you don't realize that that is what you should be doing. You have to think beyond your book or books.  Think fans.  I feel my fans are my friends and try to treat them as such.  My fans aren't just people who buy my books, I care for them.

As I've said on many occasion, Goodreads and Twitter are an author's greatest marketing tools. And both of these awesome tools are free. BUT BEWARE, as the market changes, how we use these tools has changed as well. Less than a year ago I wrote in my very popular post on Impressions how I used Twitter to increase sales.  Back then, 10 to 12 well placed tweets in a day would practically guarantee me a few sales.  But that doesn't work today.  It doesn't work because thousands upon thousands of authors are tweeting "buy my book." Both your tweets and mine are getting lost in the clutter or noise.  When 1000 people are saying "buy my book," you might buy it.  When 100,000 people are saying "buy my book," you wish they'd shut up... that is, unless they are your friend. 

So while I think you should still tweet "buy my book,"  I believe the bulk of your tweets should have another purpose.  That purpose is to make a connection with people. I like to help people.  It's my personality to help, so I tweet information or advice for indie authors (like this post).  I also have a sense of humor, so if I find something funny, I RT it.  Eventually my personality begins to shine through in my tweets.  At least I hope it does, because, remember, fans aren't just buying my books, they're buying me, and they can't buy me if they don't feel a connection with me.  Your personality is your first defense against getting lost in the clutter.  Decide who you are, and then blog and tweet through your personality, and pretty soon you'll have fans who'll want to know when your next book is coming out--fans who will be able to spot you through the clutter.

The writing's on the wall.  Things are changing quickly in the indie book world, people, and we're either going to change with them, or get left in the dust.

More to come.  Peace.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Heaven Sent Arrived This Morning

If you're a fan of The Falling Angels Saga, I am so happy to announce that Heaven Sent the third, and next to last book in the saga, arrived this morning and is looking for a little attention.  My latest book comes with the same page-turning drama and sense of humor as the earlier books as Megan Barnett attempts to get herself out of yet another sticky situation.  Earth Angel (the 2nd book in the saga) ended in a stunning cliffhanger.  If you are one of the fans whose been waiting an entire year to find out what happens next, your wait is over.  Check out the back cover blurb:

What Does It All Mean?
Readers who devoured Boyfriend From Hell and Earth Angel will be captivated by the third book in the Falling Angels Saga.

As summer break for Glendale Union High begins, heartsick Megan awaits Guy's return while struggling to control her emerging abilities.  Love is in the air, but can the new loves in Megan, Maudrina, Suze and Aunt Jaz's lives be trusted? Nothing is what it seems.  Meanwhile, the Satanists are set to hatch their most diabolical scheme ever, and if it comes to pass, Satan may finally win out.

Megan has precious little time to unravel the cryptic message hidden in the riddle she received at the end of Earth Angel. If she doesn’t, the life of someone most dear to her will be lost forever, and Megan may yet find herself living in HELL.

“The third book in E. Van Lowe’s Falling Angels Saga is his most thrilling yet.”

I am so excited about this latest book in the saga.  It was the toughest to write, but I believe it will be the most satisfying.  And if you're satisfied, you know I'm satisfied. Kindle owners can get it here: HS For Kindle.  Nook owners can get it here: HS For Nook.  It will only be available as an ebook for a few weeks, but in January you should be able to pick up the paper copy as well.

If you're a fan and would like to become a member of my fran club The 25, please click here: The 25 and read the post that explains what you need to do.  Members of The 25 get special announcements, contests, and a FREE novella, and other goodies.  So if you've been reading and enjoying my books, please take the next step and join my little insider group.

It's morning here, time for me to go for my celebratory cup of coffee.  That's how I'm celebrating, Cindy.  Coffee.  Yum!  Happy pub day to me.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Falling Angels Saga Now On Tour

The Falling Angels Saga, including the soon to be released, Heaven Sent, is now on tour.  For details and a chance to win the Cyber Monday Giveaway (enter thru Dec 5th, 2012) go to Bewitching Book Tours.

If you'd like to read a free sneak peek excerpt of Heaven Sent click here: Heaven Sent Sneak Peek.


Monday, November 26, 2012

Cyber Monday Giveaway

It's Cyber Monday people, and I have an awesome deal and you don't have to spend a penny to get it. The goodies below and more can be yours just for entering The Falling Angels Cyber Monday Giveaway. You can keep the gift basket for yourself or give it away as a holiday gift.  This giveaway is a prelude to my Heaven Sent blog tour which starts tomorrow.

To enter and see more of the awesome gift basket go to Bewitching Books Tours:

The giveaway runs through December 6th, but enter now so you don't forget.


Sunday, November 11, 2012

My Trip To Apple Valley

Yesterday morning I got up bright and early to drive out to Apple Valley, which is in what is called the California high desert.  I was headed to there to give my motivational talk on being a writer in this wonderful digital age.  It was cold in LA Saturday morning.  Perfect weather for sleeping in.  Yet as much as I wanted to climb back into bed, I knew that by the time I got to Apple Valley I would be excited.  And I was. I love hanging with writers, and gave a talk that many said was inspiring and motivational.


A few young fans came out as well.  That made the trip even better.  I love meeting fans of my books.  What author wouldn't?  The room had a diverse crowd of writers and fans of all ages.

The members of the High Desert Branch of the California Writers Club were incredibly gracious.  This is the president, Freddi Gold:

After my talk, I signed a few books.

And after that, they took me to lunch.  I don't have any shots from lunch, but there were fifteen of us writers, so you know the conversation was lively.  Thanks Freddi and the members from the High Desert Branch of The California Writers Club for showing me such a fabulous time.  I hope you'll have me speak again.

These photos were all taken by club photographer, Anthony.  Thanks Anthony.


Friday, November 9, 2012

Cover Reveal Sneak Peek

I want to thank the eleven bloggers who agreed to participate in my Heaven Sent cover reveal.  It's a beautiful cover designed by Adara Rosalie, who also designed the Boyfriend From Hell & Earth Angel covers.   My book covers have made several Goodreads lists including Best Book Covers of 2011 and Favorite Book Covers of 2011.  I have a feeling Heaven Sent will be one of the best of 2012--that's how beautiful it is.  Or that's how beautiful I think it is  ;-)

Anyway, Adara Rosalie and I thought we'd tease you with a snippet of the cover.  The reveal will take place next Tuesday December 13th.  In the mean time, here's a snippet of Adara's gorgeous work.



Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Heaven Sent Cover Reveal

First off, this is not the cover for the latest book in The Falling Angel's Saga.  Heaven forbid. Get it?  Heaven forbid/Heaven Sent??? Anyways, the cover for my latest, Heaven Sent, is spectacular, even  more spectacular than my earlier covers, and you know how spectacular those were.  This cover is so spectacular that I'm holding a cover reveal contest to help get the word out.  Yes, you heard me right, a cover reveal contest.  You bloggers are going to want to host the reveal of this gorgeous new cover on your blog; first, because it's beautiful, and second, because you can win some neat prizes.  What are the prize?  First, checkout the Heaven Sent back cover blurb and then let's reconvene:

What Does It All Mean?
 Readers who devoured Boyfriend From Hell and Earth Angel will be captivated by the third book in the Falling Angels Saga.
As summer break for Glendale Union high begins, heartsick Megan awaits Guy's return while struggling to control her emerging abilities.  Love is in the air, but can the new loves in Megan, Maudrina, Suze and Aunt' Jaz's life be trusted? Nothing is what it seems.  Meanwhile, the Satanists are set to hatch their most diabolical scheme ever, and if it comes to pass, Satan may finally win out.

Megan has precious little time to unravel the cryptic message hidden in the riddle she received at the end of Earth Angel. If she doesn’t, the life of someone most dear to her will be lost forever, and Megan may yet find herself living in HELL.

“The third book in E. Van Lowe’s Falling Angels Saga is his most thrilling yet.”
Sounds exciting, doesn't it? If you're not already a fan of The Falling Angels Saga you need to get up to speed.  I won't bore you with what reviewers are saying about these funny yet thrilling books, instead here's a downloadable free sample of the first book Boyfriend From Hell, so you can judge for yourself.  Once you've read it and loved it--obviously--go here to purchase the ebook at a shamefully low price for such a great value: AMAZON.   And if you happen to be boycotting Amazon go here: B&N.

Back to the contest.  Everyone, yes everyone who participates in the cover reveal will receive an autographed copy of my latest Heaven Sent FREE.  And because I'm getting into the holiday spirit a little early, I'm throwing in a free copy of my September release, the first book in my Hollyweird series, The Zombie Always Knocks Twice.  And if you're not into destroying trees, or like reading your books digitally, I will send your FREE copies to your Kindle or Nook (sorry The Zombie Always Knocks Twice is not available on Nook). 

But here's the catch, I'm only giving these books to 10 bloggers, so I will need 10, yes TEN participants.    First come, first served.  To qualify, your blog must have at least 100 followers.  That's it.  This contest is available internationally.  I want to get the word out about Heaven Sent worldwide. If you're interested in participating, don't leave it in the comments, instead, email me here:  Reveal my new cover and win two free books.

More neat stuff to come as my pub date approaches.  And if you'd like to know more about me, my books, and what else I'm up to, please stop by my website:


Monday, October 15, 2012

Use Goodreads to Drive Aamazing Amazon Reviews

Followers of my blog know how much I adore Goodreads.  I believe it is an author's (indie or traditional) second most powerful marketing tool.  Twitter being the first.  The best thing about both these tools is they are free.  I've talked about using Goodreads giveaways to gain Impressions; I've counseled you on how to use Goodreads to Connect with Fans.  If you haven't read these posts I suggest you do because they are chock full of great marketing tools for all authors.

Yesterday I was looking for ways to garner new Amazon reviews for my latest novel, The Zombie Always Knocks Twice, when it occurred to me I didn't need to look around for possible reviewers.  I had already been contacted by possible reviewers, in fact for The Zombie Always Knocks Twice I'd been contacted by over 300 readers who wanted to read my book.

Those prospective readers signed up for my last Goodreads giveaway.  When I hold a Goodreads giveaway I only offer one copy of the book and I only hold it for just 5-7 days.  My last giveaway was for just 3 days. If you want to know why these numbers are important, read my post on Impressions.  305 readers signed up to win a free copy of my book, but only one of them won.  I realized I could make winners out of many more of them for something in return--an Amazon review.

So last evening I went to my Goodreads author page and began clicking on the icons of the readers who wanted my book.  I was able to see what their favorite books were, what books they'd recently read, what were their favorite genres and much more.  In other words, I am able to look at the profiles of everyone who requested my book and determine which of these readers might be most interested in reading it and (hopefully) giving my book a favorable review.

Then I messaged (yes, you can write a personal message to anyone on Goodreads who tried to win a free copy of your book) 10 of the readers.  I realize I'm not going to hear from all of them, but that's okay, I still have 295 prospects left.  How about that?

All you need to do to get a pool of qualified reviewers for your book is to: 1) host a Goodreads giveaway and then: 2) Contact those who didn't win and offer them a second chance at your book in exchange for an Amazon review.  Please remember when you're writing someone to be respectful of their privacy and time.  But be honest with them.  Say something like "I see you were interested in winning a free copy of my book. Sorry you didn't win, but I'd love to send you a copy in exchange for a fair an honest review that you post on Amazon." I'm sure you will get your share of positive responses.    Remember, these are people who already want to read your book.

The only drawback to a Goodreads giveaway is you must give away a paper book.  No ebooks.  So if you're ebook only, sorry, but this won't work for you.  If your book is available in paper it still doesn't mean you have to offer a hard copy for your Amazon review.  Postage can get expensive.  I started out by offering e-copies.  I'm sure I'll get some takers.

And I know I said use Goodreads to drive amazing reviews, and there's no guarantee of that.  But I am assuming your book is amazing and that all it needs is a few more readers singing its praises on Amazon to kick your sales into high gear.

That's my latest offering for indie authors.  I hope I didn't leave anything out.  I just thought of it and was dying to share it with you. 

Oh wait, one more thing.  I'm still looking for fair and honest Amazon reviews for The Zombie Always Knocks Twice.  If you're interested in reviewing my book please email me at  Hope you enjoyed the post.


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Trolling For Reviews

I was trolling for reviews this evening when I came across a review of one of my books that cracked me up.  What is trolling for reviews?  That's what I call it when I go to Goodreads and scroll my books looking for a good new review. Yes, even the vaunted E. Van Lowe needs an ego boost from time-to-time  :-)   That's what I was doing this evening, killing some time and hoping to find something to boost my ego. Boyfriend From Hell has nearly 300 Goodreads ratings and 85 reviews, so finding a good new one can take a while.  But I'm glad I took the time.  I found a review posted today by Cindy.  It was perfect. Not because she wrote such an awesome review. But because it reads like a posting from someone who got the book and really enjoyed it.  And isn't that what we authors live for?  It's not for the money, although I'm sure we'd all love it, it's for fans.  We live to hear that readers love our books.  Cindy's review is full of quotes and even contains a photo of Rupert Grint, Ron Weasley, who Cindy thinks would be the perfect Matt.

"God, how I love Ronald Weasley"  That's Cindy talking, not me.  But I have to agree.  He's a great choice. Cindy is my kind of girl. She really got the book and took the time to comment on all the characters. Here's a link to her review: Cindy's Review

By the way, my post on The Twenty-Five has gotten some awesome responses.  I am so pleased to say I now have a Twenty-Five.  If you've asked to be a member you will be receiving an email from me in the next few weeks welcoming you to the group.  And if you're reading this and would like to become a member, I can have have more than 25 members.  That's the idea.  Just read the earlier post and send me an email.  Easy Peasy.

I haven't blogged for a while because I am doing final edits on Heaven Sent, the third book in the Falling Angels Saga.  But if you're looking for an E. Van Lowe read with my inimitable sense of humor, you don't have to wait for Heaven Sent.  The first book in my Hollyweird series, The Zombie Always Knocks Twice is now out.  Sales have been slow, so I could use your help, but the reviews have been as good as ever.  You can read a few here. Hollyweird on Goodreads.

All right, Frans, I have to get back to work.  The new one is due out in December.  If you're an author and on Goodreads, you never know what gems you'll turn up while trolling for reviews.  Cindy's review is the perfect example because it prompted this post.  Thanks again, Cindy.

Troll responsibly.


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Power of 25


In my last post entitled Cultivating Fans, I used author John Locke's example of starting with 25 fans you can count on for a sale and building from there.  In the post, I said my goal was to have 100 such fans or frans, as I call you guys because hopefully you're more than fans, you're friends.

Because of several RTs and a posting by good fran, Donna at Girl Who Reads, that post has received almost 300 views, which is a lot for me in a week.  Anyway, that post got me thinking about the power of 25.  Look at the Twitter word-of-mouth photo above. 

One person talking about your book can really multiply.  If you know me, you know I like putting my money where my mouth is.  So, I've come up with a great idea that I want to share with you.  I have decided to start a group.  Not so much a fan club as a fran club.  I am calling my new group The 25.  If you decide to latch onto this idea, terrific, but call your group something else.  Okay?

I want to prove the power of 25.  I want to identify 25 frans who will buy my books.  I no longer want to assume I have 25 people who will buy my books.  I want to know I have 25 people because they have joined the group and are committed.  I hope some of you reading this will become members of The 25.  Here's what I am asking of you.

* That you buy 1 ecopy of my latest book
* That you purchase that copy on the day I ask
* That if you enjoy the book you evangelise it to at least 1 person
* That you sign up for my newsletter (with exclusives just for The 25)
* That you spread kindness, without being asked, to other authors and bloggers

And that's it.  I ask 5 things of you.  Just five things.  My ebooks generally sell for between &2.99-$5.99.  I publish 1-2 books a year.  That's a yearly financial burden of $9 dollars for joining The 25.   If you all purchase my book on the same day (Nook or Kindle) my ranking will drop (That's a good thing).  If my ranking drops low enough I will make a list.  If I make a list others may see my book and want to buy it.  You see how this works?  There's power in numbers--even a number as low as 25.

When you tweet to me add the hashtag #twofive.  Why?  Because pretty soon others on Twitter are going to ask about the hashtag and we can direct them to this post.  And who knows, maybe others will join The 25.

Why comment?  Because as my friend Donna pointed out in a post last week, I want to start a dialogue, and I can't if you don't respond to my posts or tweets.  Don't just read them and enjoy or hate them.  Let's talk. We should feel like we're in this together, that 25 is just a number, but that we're larger than that.

Okay, so what's in it for you:

* If you're an author, I will buy your books.  If you're a blogger and you need me to participate in some other way, just let me know.  And if you're neither author nor blogger, you need to tell me what you'd like from me.  I hope it's not a pony.  I cannot accommodate that.

* I will follow you, and tweet you, and at times sing your praises.
* You will get exclusives on contests and free stuff
* You can become one of my trusted beta readers and get fee autographed copies of my books

* Most importantly, I will be there for you, just as you are there for me.

Anyway, that's my idea of how to build a following, a community.  My community is selfish.  It's built around me, my work and my goals.  I'm not trying to pull the wool over any one's eyes here by pretending this is for you. But you--everyone of you can do the same thing.  Start your own community around your own selfish desires, but make sure part of your mission is to help others in achieving their goals.  It's the easiest way to get people to help you.  And the bonus is: it makes you feel really good, trust me on that.

That's the idea.  if it works for you--steal it. If you'd like to join The 25, email me at  I do not plan to stop at 25 members. I'd love to get to 1000 or more. I won't be asking anything from you now, but like Vito Corleone in The Godfather, I will be calling upon you some time on the future for a... favor

And it would be nice if some of you left a comment here.  Even if you don't like what I'm saying here, comment anyway, and let me know. 

If you want to improve sales and get more dedicated viewers to your blog, start with 25 frans and build a community of frans online.  That's the way I see it.


** 1/2/15 I still need a few more beta readers for my latest work.  If you'd like to be a beta join The 25 now.

**10/24/14  Update.  Shortly, I will be looking for beta readers for my latest work.  If you'd like to be a beta, join The 25 now.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Cultivating Fans

When I worked in television, I was fortunate enough to work on shows that had thousands, if not millions of fans.  As a writer/producer of The Cosby Show and Even Stevens, fan mail was routinely diverted to a department at Disney who dispersed it to cast members.  I don't know what they did with the mail that wasn't directed to specific cast members, but in my years at Disney, I saw very little fan mail.

Because of this, fans seemed to me to be "those" people.  The show's ratings told me they were out there and that they adored my work, but I had no direct contact with them.  Because they didn't feel real to me, I took them for granted. Believe it or not, many authors today have this same attitude, thinking that fans are "those" people.  People who adore us, but we don't have to do anything for their adoration. 

Coming out of the TV biz, I realized if I was going to be successful as an author, I had to change my attitude.  Fans aren't "those" people, fans are "us."  We're in this together.  I do my part by writing something you like.  You do your part by purchasing it.  And hopefully in between the writing and the purchasing, we develop a relationship and try to get to know one another a little bit.

John Locke, the indie author who became famous for selling 1 million ebooks in five months says: Develop a list of guaranteed buyers.  In his book, Locke says his ultimate goal is to have an email list of 10,000 guaranteed buyers, but he started out with a goal of 25.

I think this is a good place for any author to begin.  Find 25 fans that you can email with, tweet with, message with on Goodreads and chat with on Facebook.  These are the people you can count.  They're not exactly fans, though.  They're more than fans, they're friends, or as I like to call them-- frans.

Last week I received a Goodreads  message from a fran in Italy asking when the new Falling Angels Saga book was coming out.  I messaged her back, reminding her it was coming out in December but that I had a new series starting right now with The Zombie Always Knocks Twice.  She bought my new book, read it, and gave me my very first review.  I know for sure when Heaven Sent comes out in December, she'll be at the head of the line.

I chat with a handful of frans on Twitter on a regular basis.  I email with several more.  I wouldn't know any of these people if they hadn't found one of my books.  But now that I do know them, I try to be a friend to them.

Recently, a fran who wasn't a writer, became a writer and wrote her first book.  I bought her book just as she has bought mine.  The old TV me might have thought "ooh, isn't that cute, she wrote a book."  But me and my frans are in this together, which means we have to support one another.  By the way, if you're looking for an excellent dystopian romance with some terrific action and suspense, have I got a book for you:  Frozen Heart

Would I like to have 10,000 frans I can count on for a sale?  Of course I would.  But right now I'm concentrating on 100.  100 frans I can count on to buy my books.  If I'm going to reach this goal I have to do my part as well.  They need to know I'm rooting for them, too.  And the best part of it is... I am!!!

In the world of independent authors, the relationship between author and fan is no longer a one-way-street.  I think this is a good thing.  So if you want to become a Best Selling author (both Boyfriend From Hell and Earth Angel made Amazon's children's ebook Best Seller List) start by cultivating a relationship with 25 frans and build from there.

Hey, E. Van Lowe frans--Thanks for everything.  And if you're not a fran yet and would like to be one, write me and become one. There are no special requirements to be in my club.

*the photo at the top is Lauren, one of my first frans.  She was in high school back then, participating in my first photo contest.  Today she's a college student. Last year I paid Lauren to help develop my marketing plan.  We're in this together.


Friday, August 31, 2012

The Zombie Is A Knockin'

Okay, people!  It's put up or shut up time.  All of you who say "Ooh, E. Van Lowe, we love you so much,"  I have a new series starting and it's success depends on you.  I think this new one is every bit as good as my best selling novels Boyfriend From Hell and Earth Angel.  If you'd like to check out a sample there's one available at The Bookish Brunette, who was also gracious enough to host my book cover reveal.  Thanks, Ashley.


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

BlurbQuest IV

Back in early 2009 before my first YA Never Slow Dance With A Zombie had come out, I received an email from my editor at Tor Teen telling me I needed to get some author blurbs for the book.  You know those blurbs you see on book covers or inside.  "Scared the bejezus out of me" --Stephen King. Those things.

I was stunned.  "I thought you guys came up with that stuff."  "No.  Blurbs are acquired by the author." 

And so I set out on my very first blurbquest.  I looked everywhere, wrote many authors.  I didn't get one.  After a few weeks of failure, I tried another angle.  I was new to writing novels, but I wasn't new to writing, so I decided to get blurbs from writers in the genre I knew best.  TV. 

Never Slow Dance With A Zombie is a funny zombie novel, so I reached out to writers who wrote for TV shows with fans I thought would find my book appealing.  I found great success.  I got two awesome blurbs.  Mike Price of The Simpsons wrote: "If this book doesn't make you laugh out loud at least a dozen times, then maybe you're a zombie."

Jim Bernstein formerly of Family Guy and American Dad wrote: "Mean Girls meets Night of The Living Dead, as frightening, tumultuous and hilarious as actual adolescence."

I even had a friend wrangle a blurb from comic book sensation Marv Wolfman, creator of Blade and The New Teen Titans: "Van Lowe's prose is fun, funny, as well as insightful, and his story is filled with the kind of antic bizarreness that definitely is High School."

I was feeling pretty good about myself... until I presented my blurbs to my editor who told me "Only author blurbs or prestigious periodicals go on the cover." 

I was crushed.  They weren't going to use them.

I had called in favors to get those blurbs.  But hey, no worries. That was one of those life lesson thingys. Despite having no blurbs, the book went on to become a Scholastic Book Club selection, was nominated for an ALA Award, and sold pretty darn well. So nah, nah! blurb Gods.

Since then, however, I have to admit, I have gotten the sweats every time a publisher asks for blurbs.  And while I was close to landing one with Boyfriend From Hell, I was not able to land an author blurb that meant anything...until now.  Several weeks ago the publisher of my up-coming novel The Zombie Always Knocks Twice, Imajin, asked for blurbs.  Oh, nooooo! Not again!  I could feel the flop sweat pooling up in my armpits before I finished reading the email.

This time, however, things would be different.  I knew a prominent zombie author whom I'd met on line.  I wrote another big name zombie author blind, and she wrote back "E, I feel I already know you."  Wha??? I even reached out to a prestigious organization.  They all agreed to... write... blurbs.  Hallelujah!

It took me four years and four books to finally get an author blurb. The lesson here is if you stay at it long enough, you will have success.  That goes for getting published or any other endeavor.  Hang in there, friends. 

I want to thank Rusty Fischer, author of Zombies Don't Cry, Amanda Ashby, author of Zombie Queen of Newbury High and The Paranormal Romance Guild for their awesome blurbs.  The blurbs?  I'll share them with you in another post.

I you don't already know, The Zombie Always Knocks Twice is the first in my Hollyweird series.  The cover reveal will either happen today or tomorrow.  It's being done by The Zombie Queen herself, Ashley, The Bookish Brunette.  I want to thank her as well.  Please support me and purchase the book on or after 8-30-12.  It's being released as an ebook first with the paperback coming in a month.  And if you enjoyed this post, please let me know by leaving a comment.

By the way, those awesome blurbs Tor didn't use reside on my equally awesome Never Slow Dance With A Zombie bookmarks. Oh, yeah!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Meet Davah Avena

Last Monday I went to the offices of JKE/ATA, the company that optioned my novels  Boyfriend From Hell and Earth Angel to turn them into a TV series.  My visit was to meet one of the prospective writers chosen to write the Boyfriend From Hell TV pilot.  Meetings like this can be tough on the writer.  There were five of us there to hear her tell us how she envisioned the show.  That can be nerve wracking for anyone.

Our writer, however, was really vivacious and full of smiles.  I liked her immediately.  We went to a conference room, all of us on one side of the long table across from the poor writer.  She was unfazed and proceeded to tell us how she would present the series, and also gave us a primer on the different ways to pitch it to different networks.  She knew her stuff.

By the end of the meeting we were all in love with her.  We knew we'd found our writer.   And so, without further ado,  I am happy to introduce you to the writer of the Boyfriend From Hell TV pilot, Davah Avena.

This photo was taken last Friday when me, Davah and JKE/ATA manager-creative development, Heidi Mueller, met in JKE's beautiful break room to further discuss the show. Davah was a writer and story editor on NBC's Medium for two seasons.  I loved that show.   I also loved Davah's pilot Armed & Psychic, about two sisters, one cop, one psychic.  The script had a sense of humor that reminded me of my own.  And look at that smile.  You guys are falling in love with her already, just like I did, aren't you?

The journey to getting on TV is a tricky one, and I'd like to take you along with me.  To get on TV, the first thing you must do is find a writer who is on THE LIST.  Networks have secret lists that aren't all the same. It's like an exclusive night club.  If you're not on the list, they won't take your pitch.  We know that Davah is on the CW, ABC Family and NBC lists, and these are key places we'd like to take the show.  So we're in good shape there.

That's Heidi above.  Her passion about seeing my books become a TV show is one of the reasons I'm with JKE.  She's a great development exec with an excellent feel for what a youthful audience wants to see on TV.  She's convinced my books will make a terrific TV show.  I hope she's right.  Thanks for your support, Heidi.

The three of us met and discussed what would be different about the series from the books.  I liked the new stuff, and if the show gets on, you'll be in for some neat surprises.  One thing I'm sure everyone will like is Davah's desire to give both Guy and Matt a larger role.  I can't tell you how many people have written me saying they needed to see more Guy.  Now you will.

Me and Davah.  I know, I am wearing the hell  out of that hat.  What can I say, I like it.

The three of us had a great meeting of the minds on Friday, combining elements from the books with some new stuff.  By the way, Davah loved Ibwa from Earth Angel, so expect to see more of the little red demon as well. 

Next step is for Davah to work up the pitch.  She says it will take a week.  In the mean time, Sheree (my manager and producing partner) and Steve (president JKE/ATA) will be setting our first pitch meeting.  I'll keep you posted. 

I hope you enjoy my peeling back the curtain of the inner workings of Hollywood.  I know most people outside of the community have no idea how a show gets on TV. So come with me on this journey, and hopefully next spring, we'll have something to celebrate.  I also hope to do an interview with Davah down the road so you can get to know her better. 

If you enjoy stories that take place behind the scenes in Hollywood, you will love my up-coming novel The Zombie Always Knocks Twice.  It's the first book in my Hollyweird series.  The book is due out on August 30th.  That's all  for now.  Man, I am having one exciting August.