Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year!

I can't believe the year is coming to an end already. For many of us on the author end of the business this year saw diminishing returns for our work.  Meaning, many authors I know made less on their writing this year than in previous years.  If you're a reader, this has been a banner year, with the quality of self and indie published works increasing dramatically along with some great books brought out by the Big 5 publishers.  There's lots of good reading to be had.

I had an awesome year.  And, yes, I made less this year than in previous years, however, I wrote what I feel is my best book yet--The Memory Giver, a romantic/horror tale featuring two young lovers. I can't say I'm going to knock down any doors with this book, but I'm very proud of it nonetheless. The new book is still in editorial and will be out (hopefully) early next year, but 16 chapters are available free right now on my Wattpad page.  If you'd like to end the year (or start 2015) with a solid romantic/horror read click here: THE MEMORY GIVER.  I also dipped my toe ever-so-gently into self publishing with the December 24th publication of my funny, snarky novella I Want You Back! This is just a start for me.  At some point I plan to dive into self-publishing whole hog.  Look for more shorter works from me and my horror writing alter ego, Sal Conte, in 2015. For now, my longer works will continue to be published traditionally.

I'm going to end this post by sharing a post from author, Bob Mayer with you: 16 Thoughts for Authors/Publishing for 2015.  I feel all authors should read this post. While the piece is aimed at authors, readers also need to know what to expect in the new year.

Happy New Year, everyone.  It's an honor and a pleasure being a writer.  I'm so lucky that my job is sharing stories with you. I look forward to a fabulous 2015. and I wish the same for readers and authors alike. Peace.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

It's Not As Deep As I Thought It Was

I've finally done it.  After eight years, seven novels, three publishers, many rejections,  and much hand wringing, I've decided to dip my toe ever so gently into the swirling waters of self-publishing. If you've read any of my posts for indie authors you'd think I was a self-publishing machine.  Think again. This is a first for me and it is daunting.  The thing I feared the most turned out to be the easiest.  I'd heard nightmarish tales of the difficulties in uploading a book to Amazon.  I heard you needed to know how to write code.  I heard you needed a converting program.

After downloading a program to convert my ms file to mobi (the format needed for Kindle) and failing at achieving a satisfactory book to share with the public, I decided to just start the process of signing up to be an author on Amazon while I searched for another, more user friendly, mobi converter program.  I went to Amazon KDP and filled out all the forms--easy, added my tax info--easy, uploaded the cover--easy (I'd had a cover designed months ago), and arrived at the section where it says 'upload your book.'  I tried uploading the pdf  I'd prepared for the converter program. I got a message saying Amazon didn't accept pdfs.  It listed the accepted formats and low and behold, one of them was Word document.   What the??? What about all that very technical converting I needed to do?

Here's where it gets really strange: Throwing caution to the wind, I loaded the doc, waited for it to successfully upload.  Once the ms was loaded successfully Amazon asked if I'd like to see what it would look like in several different Kindle formats. I held my breath and started with Kindle Fire--perfect.  I scrolled my ebook through all the various formats and while some weren't so perfect, all looked pretty darn good.

Amazon then asked was I ready to publish. "No," I thought. "I'm doing something wrong.  It can't be this easy."  Yet after a few days of searching the internet and a conversation with my publisher, I discovered it can be that easy.

So here I am, friends, dipping my toe into the waters.  The ebook I'm publishing is a funny, snarky novella I wrote after the publication of Never Slow Dance With A Zombie called I Want You Back!  I'd been sitting on it for years.  Earlier this year, I polished it again, sent it out for an edit, and here we are. It's available for presale at $2.99 here: I Want You Back!  Why not pop on over and admire my Amazon page, but DO NOT BUY IT because I'm offering the same ebook here free: E's Website. You heard right, I'm giving the ebook away and I'd rather you try it for free than buy it.

Not to toot my own horn, but some of my books have been Amazon ebook bestsellers, and not in some obscure category, either.  And I've been nominated for the prestigious ALA (American Library Association) Award, so I'm no slouch. I even wrote a short film that was nominated for an Academy Award, seriously, the Academy Award--you know, the show that's on TV every year. But I digress. The free ebook is my way of getting newer readers to try my work. All I want in return is that you sign up for my newsletter for special fans.

Please take a moment to click on the link above, and stop by my wbesite where you can hear more about the ebook & newsletter, and sign-up to receive it in time to read during the holidays.

Now that I know how easy self-publishing can be, you will be seeing more shorter works from me published by me.  My longer works will still be published by White Whisker Books--for now.  I've dipped my toe into the self-publishing waters and they're not as deep as I thought they'd be. If you're considering self-publishing, do not hesitate as long as I did.  It's not as scary as it seems. Go for it!

If you'd like a short, funny, paranormal read, head on over to my website and give I Want You Back! a try.

Keep reading- Keep Writing!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Hachette, Twitter and You

This morning I read in Publishers Weekly that Hachette, the big 5 publisher, was going to start using Twitter to promote their books. Wondering if this was part of the fallout of the much talked about Hachette vs Amazon battle waged mostly in the media, I anxiously read the article.  After all, many of us use Twitter to promote our books.  I wanted to know what Hachette was going to do that I wasn't doing.  In the article, Hachette announced they were going to partner with Gumroad on an e-commerce venture. Who the heck is Gumroad?

I spent a chunk of the morning doing some research, searching for some sage words on who Gumroad was and why Gumroad was a platform we indie authors should be using.  What I discovered was a very informative article on Gumroad's blog by developer Nathan Barry.  In the piece, Barry touted that he'd sold over $355,759 in books using Gumroad.  You know that got my attention.  Click HERE to read the entire piece, but stay with me for a few minutes before you do.

Barry threw me for a loop when he said he didn't use Amazon to sell his books.  Here's what he said:

Before writing books I made all my product revenue from selling iPhone apps on the App Store. Each day I would look at the previous days sales numbers. Unfortunately that’s all they were: numbers. I would be informed “You sold x copies of this app in these countries.” That’s it.
Without customer information I had no way of contacting any of my users. That meant notification about updates, asking for feedback, and any other contact had to be done through custom code through the app—something I hadn’t taken the time to build.
That’s when it really hit me: the people who bought my app weren’t my customers, they were Apple’s. Apple was just giving me a little bit of money from each purchase, but not the customer.
I often get asked why I, as a full-time author, don’t sell my books on Amazon or the iBooks store. The biggest reason is the lack of customer information. I want to sell directly to my customers so that I can email them to ask how they like it, know who is buying it and where, and be able to build on that relationship to make my next book launch more successful than the last.

Interesting, huh? Over this past year it has become more and more obvious to me that my email list is going to be my greatest selling tool.  It isn't yet.  I'm working on it.  If you're an author, this blog post is yet another reason for you to continue to not only build, but cultivate the readers your email list.  There was a time when I held contests just to get names onto my list.  I don't do that anymore.  The names on my list are harder to come by now because they are mostly readers I have sought out because they have read and enjoyed one or more of my books.  I want to have a relationship with these people. These readers are already fans, and if I do things right, most of them will stay with me and become lifelong fans.

As authors we often feel this is our journey.  We feel it's a solitary journey, but we're wrong in feeling that way. It's a shared journey between us and our readers, but it's shared only if we open up to them.

That's it from me for today.  Food for thought. Read Nathan Barry's blog post, decide if Gumroad is for you, and think of ways to organically grow your email list.

Keep Reading--Keep Writing!

Monday, December 1, 2014

A Dose of Perspective For The Holidays

I've been thinking a lot about being an author--indie or otherwise--lately.  As authors we are often looking for new ways to market our books in the hopes of reaching Best Seller status, or at least to sell more books than we're currently selling.  There's nothing wrong with that.

This year, for the holidays, I decided to offer up a large dose of perspective for myself and possibly  for those of you who are reading this and in need of some.  You know who you are.  If you're not sure--read on.

 Here's why I'm in need of perspective: My career as an author began back in 2009 with my novel Never Slow Dance With A Zombie (Tor-teen).  The book had a nice bit of success right out of the gate.  It became a Scholastic Book of The Month Club selection with an initial order of 25,000 copies.  It went on to sell many thousands more copies and was nominated for a prestigious ALA Award.  I followed this up with indie published (White Whisker Books) Boyfriend From Hell and Earth Angel.  Both books were instant Amazon ebook bestsellers, topping the children's-YA ebook list.  The only other author with more than one book in the top 10 at that time was Suzanne Collins with her The Hunger Games trilogy.  I was living the dream. Shortly after, my series was optioned by Hollywood for a TV show or movie.

I was feeling good about myself, but somewhere along the way I lost perspective.  I forgot why I became an author in the first place.  When my next novel, The Zombie Always Knocks Twice (Imajin books) didn't sell well I became distraught.  Then the next book (the third in The Falling Angels Saga)  Heaven Sent, came out of the box like gangbusters and then tapered off. No more 25,000 book initial orders. No more Best Seller list.  And no TV show or movie. I blamed it on my marketing, I blamed it on the market, I blamed it on all the other indie authors who were stealing my eyeballs.  The truth is, there's no blame here.  These things happen.  Some books catch on and others don't.  Some books you think aren't worth the paper (or trilobytes) they're written on become million sellers, and other books you think are worthy (like your own, maybe) struggle to sell 500 copies. Bad mouthing the success of others while bemoaning your lack of success is a trip down misery lane, and one not worth taking.  Don't do it.  It doesn't help.  All you can do is keep writing.

Let's rejoice in the fact that others are having success.  And keep writing.  When I was a salesman and people asked how could I do it, knock on doors day-after-day, I always replied "It's a numbers game.  If I knock on so many doors, I'm going to get in; if I make so many presentations, I'm going to make a sale." What we do is a numbers game as well.  So keep writing, and remember why you started writing in the first place. I started writing because I loved it.  I still do.  I love storytelling and I love sharing my work with an audience no matter how small.  Back in the day, that audience consisted only of my mother, my brother and my friends.  I didn't think 'this audience is too small.' I loved that they enjoyed my stories.  Now, thanks to Amazon, I have readers around the world.  I don't have a million readers, but that's okay.  I'll just write another book, and if I still don't have a million readers, that's okay, too. I'm grateful for the readers I do have, and for the ability to do what I LOVE without a gatekeeper telling me I can't.

I have a new book coming out some time next year, and while I'd love for it to do well, I've stopped worrying about it.  I will market my books as best as I can, and keep writing.  So, this holiday season, as you begin marketing your books for the big Christmas rush, be like me and keep in mind why we started doing this in the first place.  If you're anything like me, you're writing because you love it.  Don't look at what others have and allow it to steal your joy.  Our joy comes from what we do.  While I'm writing this for you to read, I'm writing it for me, too, to look at from time-to-time when I start losing perspective again. I'm going to end this piece with a story written by Aesop.  The Dog And His Shadow

A DOG, crossing a bridge over a stream with a piece of flesh in his mouth, saw his own shadow in the water and took it for that of another Dog, with a piece of meat double his own in size. He immediately let go of his own, and fiercely attacked the other Dog to get his larger piece from him. He thus lost both: that which he grasped at in the water, because it was a shadow; and his own, because the stream swept it away.

I wish you happiness and great selling for the holidays.  Don't grasp at shadows. Let's root for everyone's success and not just our own.  And let's keep perspective. I hope you enjoyed this piece. If you have a comment or story you'd like to share with me (success story or not) I'd love to hear it. And most importantly, Keep Writing!

Happy Holidays. Peace.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Adventures In Genre-Bending

No! I didn't say gender-bending.

My genre-bending adventure is about to begin.  I just turned the second edit/pass of my latest novel into my publisher, White Whisker Books.  I'm calling this my genre-bending adventure because it was apparent early on in the writing process that this book was not going to fit squarely into any one hole.

I started out with two ideas.  I wanted to do something about my older brother in which my older brother was a ghost.  No, my older brother is not dead, but growing up he was someone I very much looked up to, and I wanted to write about that from a young boy's perspective, a young boy needing to finish growing up without the steady hand of a brother he looked up to.  I also knew I wanted to do something like The Green Mile.  What I mean by that is, I didn't want to hit horror over the head.  I wanted my book to be more wonder--John Coffey in The Green Mile--than horror.  To this, I added a delightful romance that winds up driving the entire story.  Oh yes, and there's a monster. So I've got a thirteen year-old boy (genre, YA), a ghost with a special power (genre, Supernatural), a sweet romance (genre, Romance), the last 100 pages are a thrill ride (genre, Thriller), oh, and the monster (genre, Horror).

For the past few months I've called it a romantic-horror-thriller.  I like that, however, the first editor called it a paranormal coming of age story.  Sheesh! Confusing.

The truth is, these labels only matter in marketing.  You want to make sure your book gets into the hands of folks who will appreciate it.  If someone is looking for pure horror they may give my book a bad review.  Reviews are all important, and early reviews are the most important, so I want to make sure the book is appealing to the right crowd early on.

I did a little research on my favorite genre-bending novel, The Time Traveler's Wife (Sci-fi/ romance), and discovered most publisher's didn't want to touch the book because it was difficult to pigeon-hole.  That didn't keep it from becoming a bestseller as well as a movie. On Goodreads, I did notice from the reviews that many of the reviewers were fans of romantic novels.

Of course, The Time Traveler's Wife is about adults and my book is about teenagers. Young love might not be as appealing as adult love.  At any rate, now that I've turned it in, I't's got me thinking. Also, while I love the Wattpad cover (the book premiered last June as a Wattpad WIP. Click on the link to check it out) it's probably the wrong cover for romance and supernatural.  What do you think?  Does it matter?  I should probably come up with a new title, too, huh?  My publisher already suggested that.  What do you think?

I welcome comments from anyone, whether you've written a genre-bender or not.  I'd love to hear from readers as well as writers.  If you have a moment, please leave your thoughts. 

Anyway, here we go.  I'll keep you posted as I lumber toward publication.

Keep Reading- Keep Writing!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Guest Post from Sal Conte on Turning Up The Horror in Your Stories

This is a guest post written by my horror writing alter ego, Sal Conte (featured in photo).

I’ve been noticing a trend among less seasoned writers of scary stories.  Too many of them are in a hurry to show you how scary they can be.  They’re anxious to get to the horror. I understand this quite well.  As writers of scary stuff, the horror is our favorite part.  But allow me to drop a little knowledge I received from one Stephen King.  It was something I read a long time ago in his book Danse Macabre.  I need to paraphrase here because, like I said, I read it a long time ago, before my brain cells were destroyed by wine, women, and the ravages of time. 

Here’s what he said: To make something really scary, you need to slowly build the world the horror takes place in.  You build your world out of the ordinary, the mundane. It’s a world that the reader recognizes.  It’s very much like his own world. Then, into this very ordinary world comes the spooky stuff.

At the risk of using my own work as an example, in my current Work In Progress on Wattpad entitled, The Memory Giver, I spend quite a bit of time in the prologue talking about young Marty’s sister leaving him at home alone for the first time.  We hear a little bit about Marty’s absentee father, that the family was recently homeless, and that Allison, his sister, is desperate to have a friend.  All normal stuff.  It’s into this very recognizable world that I introduce my reader to a glimpse of horror.

Readers on Wattpad have been responding big time to this story, so I must be doing something right.  It’s because I took my time in world building before I (as Stephen King said in Danse Macabre) brought the monster out of the closet (his words, not mine). So when writing tales of horror, take your time in world building before you introduce the scary stuff. Do this well enough, and you just may be the next great scary story teller.

 If you’d like to have a look at the prologue of our horror WIP on Wattpad, go HERE.  It’s free. 

Your Pal,


Thanks, E, for sharing the spotlight with me. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Your Novel To The Screen Part Deaux

A few weeks back I posted here about a recent phenomenon in Hollywood where novelists are now being allowed to write the screenplays of their novels.  In the past, this was unheard of as Hollywood always hired one of their own--often to disastrous results. In the earlier post I encouraged writers to take a look at screenwriting and into adapting their own novels for the screen.  You can find that earlier post HERE. Today I'm going to post briefly on what to do once you have a polished screen adaptation of your novel in your hands.

This is the hard part because there are no set rules to follow on breaking into Hollywood.  But there are three roads I want to tell you about to start you on your journey.  The first are services like Ink Tip who connect producers with screenplays.  Before writing this post I did a bit of research on Ink Tip and found a few bad reviews.  So buyer beware. As a producer, I have used Ink Tip and found them to be quite professional. I also found this very informative THREAD where a writer asks about Ink Tip and gets some very good advice for writers looking to break in. Please check it out.

The second place to get your screenplays noticed is through contests like Script Pipeline.  I've never submitted to them and don't know anyone who has, so I'm not endorsing them here, but when I looked them up they seemed reputable.  But again, buyer beware.  Do your own research. There are  lots of contests and lots of scam artists out there.  Take your time in finding one you think works for you.

The third and final way to go are agents.  A good agent is hard to find, hard to reach, and even harder to get to represent you.  Here is an interview with some of Hollywood's top literary agents who represent books: TOP AGENTS.  You may not be able to get to one of them, but if you read this at least you'll know who they are and what they're looking for. That's a good place to start.

I started working in Hollywood in the 80s.  I didn't know anyone when I got here, didn't have a soul to give me a leg up.  I knocked on doors--lots of them--and eventually someone answered. In the mean time, I was writing and rewriting and polishing my material.  If you're sincerely interested in breaking in and seeing your book on the screen, I suggest you do the same.

Hollywood has a ravenous appetite for books, and in today's market many novelists are adapting their own works for the screen.  New writers are being discovered everyday. The next one could be you. Often the books Hollywood chooses are not bestsellers, so don't let that be a deterrent.  If you'd like to see your book on the screen, start down that road now: Writing, refining, researching and knocking on doors.

Keep Reading-Keep Writing!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Engine That Could--Your Mailing List

Those who know me know I’ve been on the 'build your email list' bandwagon for some time now.  As the market becomes more cluttered with indie writers writing more and more books, the marketing of our books is going to get harder and harder. Our mailing lists of go-to readers is what can keep us in the game.  As I discovered over the past few years, building this potent list is not easy.  It won’t happen overnight.  I’ve been at it for over a year now and my list is still quite small.  My mailing list, however, is like the little engine that could. 

I think I can,
I think I can,
I know I can,
I KNOW I can!

My mailing list is not very deep, but it is powerful.  Here’s a recent story that demonstrates the power of my list.  I’d been posting chapters of my latest WIP, The Memory Giver, on Wattpad all summer long.  In early September, to my delightful surprise, the book was featured by Wattpad and (like with Amazon) I noticed I had a ranking.  Just like with Amazon, the lower your ranking the more visible your book becomes to new readers.  The goal, like on Amazon, is to get to #1. The day my book appeared on the list it ranked just above #500 in horror. Because of the feature, the ranking began to drop. One day it got as low as #18. 

With Amazon your ranking is based on sales, but since Wattpad is free, I couldn’t determine what affected my ranking. I did some research and discovered to improve your ranking readers must “star” the chapters they read if they like them.  The more stars you can get in a short period of time, the lower your ranking becomes.

After the first two weeks of my feature my ranking began to climb. It was still pretty good, hovering just under 100, but I wondered if my fans on my mailing list could help get the ranking down and keep it down a little longer.  So on Sunday October 19th, I emailed my frans on my list and told them I was looking for beta readers for my latest work and what I needed them to do to become one--read the chapters on Wattpad and star the ones they enjoyed.  They acted swiftly.  On October 21st The Memory Giver dropped to #14 on the list.  Today, two days later, it’s still #15. 

I have a regular mailing list with 100s of names, but it’s just a list because I didn't realize how important my list could be when I started it. A little over a year ago I started another list, my special list. I only have a handful of followers on my special list, but look at the power they pack.  Imagine if I had hundreds or thousands of these types of followers.  I’ve now rededicated myself to adding quality names to my special list.  Eventually, I’ll phase out the other list. Imagine if we each had 10,000 loyal followers who bought everything we wrote; we’d be doing pretty well, wouldn't we?  Getting there is not going to happen overnight.  You need to build a list of frans (friend + fan = fran) who listen when you talk to them. You do this one name (one fran) at a time.

By the way, I sent a similar email to those on my regular list.  Two people (out of 400) responded. That list will definitely be phased out. We don’t just want names on our mailing lists, we want friends who we can talk to.  Like I said, building this list won’t be easy, but in a year or two, it will be worth it.  So start now to build your mailing list of special frans one name at a time.

In a future post I’ll tell you how I'm going about building my special list.  In the meantime, if you’d like to read chapters of the (as of today) #15 horror novel on Wattpad, The Memory Giver (it’s free) Go here: THE MEMORY GIVER.   If you do stop by, please remember to “star” the chapters you enjoyed.  Thank you.

Keep Reading-Keep Writing!

Friday, October 17, 2014

It's Time To Adapt Your Novel For The Screen

There’s a new phenomenon sweeping the Hollywood landscape. Authors are being allowed to adapt their own works for the screen.  For most of my career this has not been the norm.  Typically, the studio would purchase the rights to your book and then bring in a screenwriter or two to “adapt” it—often to disastrous results, definitely to unnerving results for the author.  Just ask Stephen King about The Lawnmower Man.

Recently, however, there seems to be a change in the air.  Authors are being allowed to write the screenplays for their works, and some of the results have been stunning: Gillian Flynn wrote the movie adaptation of her novel, Gone Girl, Dennis Lehane adapted his short story The Drop, and Johnathan Tropper wrote This Is Where I Leave You.  All three movies have received good notices from the critics. 

With these successes, Hollywood  will be more open to authors penning their novels for the screen. So what are you waiting for? Now is the perfect time for independent authors to start working on their screenplays.

As an author who’s spent most of my career writing for TV and film, I can tell you writing a screenplay is a very different animal than writing a novel.  Animal?  Heck, it might not even be considered the same species.  If you haven’t written for the screen before it’s going to take some training, but if you’re a self-published or independent author, chances are you’re no stranger to training and learning new skills.

Take a screenwriting class, or buy a book on screenwriting.  There are lots of good books on screenwriting out there.  I trained so long ago I don’t want to steer you wrong on what to read so ask around.  I will tell you Linda Seeger’s Making A Good Script Great was a good book for me, and helped me immensely with the writing and rewrite of the Academy Award nominated short film, Cadillac Dreams

You know you’ve always wanted to see your book on the screen.  It’s time to get to work on your screenplay.  In a future post I’ll give you a few tips on what to do once your screenplay has been completed. 

Happy Reading – Happy Writing

You can read more about Flynn, Lehane and Tropper in this Variety article.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

On Writing What You Know

They say write what you know.  This doesn’t mean you can’t write about unicorns because you don’t know one.  By the way, I do know a few unicorns and if you want to write about one I’ll introduce you.  But I digress. What this means to me is write about people you understand; write about emotions you understand and can relate to. This rule is not meant to be taken literally. It does not mean to write about J who borrowed your favorite jacket and then sold it for drug money.  Sure, you can write about this literally, but what’s more interesting is to write about the person’s emotional state when they borrowed your jacket knowing they never planned to give it back.  Write about your emotional state when you discover you’ve been duped by a friend.  This is what I believe is meant by writing what you know.

With my latest WIP, however, I’ve seemingly moved backwards and gone somewhat to the literal stage.  While The Memory Giver is a ghost story, at its heart it’s about the unlikely romance of a pre-teen boy and girl.  Anyone who’s seen my WIP on Wattpad (If you’re interested GO HERE) knows chapter one begins when a girl rescues a boy from some bullies. This really happened to me--literally.  When I was in the eighth grade, I really did get rescued (in a sense) by a girl.

Susan was new to the neighborhood, but had quickly earned a reputation for herself as one of the girls not to be messed with.  Not by girls.  Not by boys.  Not by teachers.  Susan was the first girl I knew who smoked.  I’d often see her sitting on her stoop, a cigarette dangling from her lip like a card shark, as she talked a-mile-a-minute.   The way that cigarette could hang there without dropping off was a fascination to me.   While other young girls who smoked put out their cigarettes before they got into the neighborhood, Susan smoked right in front of her own apartment building. 

She had scars on her arms, and one on her upper lip from fighting, I guess.  I’d never seen Susan in a fight, but I’d heard about her beating up boys.  Her prowess only added to her mystique. Beneath the scowl and the scars and the cloud of smoke, Susan was cute.  She was no raving beauty, but who was back then.

I was in the accelerated learning program, and somehow Susan was placed in my class.  She didn’t look like she belonged there, but no one was going to question her presence.  One day in home room three of the popular boys were teasing me.  I can’t remember why.  I’d known these guys since 6th grade. 

“Stop messin’ with my boyfriend,” Susan said.  She seemed dead serious.

The entire class stopped what they were doing and looked at her.  Susan was a girl of a few words.  She’d had very little social interaction with the class until then.

“Who?  Eric?” one of the boys said, as if she’d just told a joke.  

Susan stood up.“You got a problem with that?”

Needless to say, no one had a problem with me being Susan’s boyfriend. The teasing stopped.   I couldn’t figure out why she did it, why she came to my rescue.  Even though I was glad the teasing stopped, it was embarrassing having a girl stand up for me.  Then, to my surprise, after school, Susan appeared by my side.

“Hi, boyfriend,” she said with a big smile.

“Umm. Hi.”

“Were you leaving without me?  Aren’t you going to walk me home?”

“Umm.  Sure.”

Things went back to normal after a few days, but I never forgot Susan, and I used this incident as a springboard for my latest.

This writing from my past is actually a first for me.  I can’t say I’m growing as a writer, although I can say my material is getting closer to home. In part II of this post I’ll talk about my older brother, the other person my latest is about. 

Write what you know means to write about the people and emotions you understand enough to explore. You can also write about amusing or interesting situations you’ve been in.  Just don’t take the adage too literally and start writing about you and your three friends in high school who all like the same boy.  That may be interesting to you, but it will bore us readers to tears.  Use the adage judiciously.

Are you writing what you know?  I’d like to know.

Keep Reading-Keep Writing

Friday, September 12, 2014

Thanks Wattpad!

Todya I received some exciting news.  Wattpad has selected my WIP The Memory Giver as one of their featured books this month starting today 9/12. The book will be on their featured book list for the next several months.  That means that during that time my new work will be exposed to many more readers.  How cool is that?

If you don't know about Wattpad, it's a community of readers and writers where we authors can expose our works or as in my case, works in progress to readers to get their opinion and/or approval.  So far the response to The Memory Giver has been outstanding which is why I believe It's been chosen.  This is a great honor for me, as it allows new readers to become fans of my work, so...

Thanks, Wattpad!

If you're not aware of The Memory Giver, my latest novel in progress, it's a romantic horror thriller.  If you'd like to know more about it please click here for The Memory Giver page on my website.  If you'd like to shoot on over to Wattpad and start reading go here: TMG Wattpad. If you sign up to follow me on Wattpad you can receive the latest chapters or updates right in your mailbox. If you're a fan I'm telling you it's my best book yet.  The language and subject matter are a bit stronger than my earlier books. That's because I'm writing it with my horror writing alter-ego, Sal Conte.  And Sal has a foul mouth. Seriously.

When you read it, please leave comments.  Those who leave several will be chosen as beta readers when the entire novel is ready for publication.  So, there's a reward for commenting. I believe the book will be coming out in December or January. Leave comments and you'll be the first to get a copy in your hands.

That's all for now.  I hope everyone had an awesome summer.  I did.  I've been writing The Memory Giver.

Keep Reading-Keep Writing.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

How Are Your Summer Sales?

It's been a month since I posted about my summer sales experiment.  I thought I'd take a moment to catch you up.  I know I said I was going to recap after two weeks, but I was still gathering information. If you'd like to read the initial post go here: Summer Sales.

As of today, July 30th, I've given away just over 8500 books.  Most of the books were given away at the beginning of the promotion. I gave away 6200 between June 18th and June 30th. I did two paid promotions in June advertising that the first book in the series was now free.  I spent around $100 on June promotions. Not a lot to begin stimulating stagnant sales.

I don't want to bore you with numbers, but I can tell you this: as I said earlier, the freebie has stimulated sales across the franchise.  My rough estimate is we sold between 200-250 books in July. While I haven't reached my goal of 750-1500 sales during the slow summer months, I am selling books during the toughest time of year to sell books. You may recall my May sales (before the experiment) across the franchise were below 100 books.  At the rate I'm going I will sell around 600 books between June 18th and September 1st.

The lesson here is to not sit pat and watch your sales dwindle.  Do something to stimulate them.  If that thing doesn't work, try something else.  For me, 600 books in 2 1/2 months is not a lot. But when I started this experiment my sales were in the toilet, so it looks like the experiment is working.

Another thing, always keep writing.  It may be that next book that propels you into the Kindle top 100. Stop fretting over the books you've already written and write a new one.  One more thing you should know:  Sales seem to increase right after promotion periods, and fall off dramatically when you're not advertising. However, if you run too many freebie promotions you will lose effectiveness. I suggest you keep all your promotional activity over a one week period, then stop for a while. I'd say at least two weeks.  And don't throw a lot of money at it.  You want to make sure you're revenue is higher than what you're spending to advertise.

I'd love to hear how your summer sales experiments are going--or any ideas you might have to stimulate sales. Let's share the information. Please write me here. Now I'm going back to work on my latest; this one is a romantic horror/thriller The Memory Giver. This is the big one, the top 100 seller, I can tell  ;-) You can read more about it here, and even download a free audio presentation of the book's prologue as well by clicking on the book title above.

Have a safe and enjoyable rest of your summer. Keep Reading-Keep Writing!


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 wouldn't go into that here, and I'm a man of my word.  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.  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


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

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 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. I released sections of the book this past summer in chapters on Watpad for FREE.  Throughout the summer I downloaded chapters for readers 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.  Wattpad will alert you whenever I post something new.

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.

And if you get to the end you'll discover I'm looking for beta readers in the US and the rest of the world.  I will be searching for beta readers thru the end of November (2014).   So watch the video, then pop on over to Wattpad and check out our latest work.

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!