WWIV Book 1

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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

What did the Lion need?

I got the eye of the tiger, a fighter, dancing through the fire
‘Cause I am a champion and you’re gonna hear me roar

I don’t care who you are, what your station may be in life, or whatever situation you may be facing. The words above are absolutely inspiring. Do you recognize them? I’ll give you a hint; they’re from a popular song. And a pretty decent music video as well.

Still don’t know? Well this may surprise you, but these words come to us by way of Katy Perry. They’re from her hit Roar. If you haven’t ever listened to the song or watched the video, here’s a link to it. I don’t think Katy will mind me sharing it with you.

So, what’s my point here? Aside from introducing you to an extremely popular song and person of course. You have to admit, it’s a pretty encouraging song. And quite a catchy chorus. Almost enough to give a person hope, inspiration – courage. And that’s what we are talking about today – courage!

I used to bite my tongue and hold my breath
Scared to rock the boat and make a mess
So I sat quietly, agreed politely

Whether it’s finding a new job, leaving an abusive spouse, standing up to a bully, or even something as simple as writing a novel – we all need courage. In the past year I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat alone, late at night, wondering exactly what I was doing. Using up valuable sleeping time, both morning and night, creating something that maybe a dozen people would ever read.

I was a coward, so many times. You see it’s easier to give up than it is to put yourself out there and face possible (read that likely) rejection. So I delayed. And did I ever have the reasons for the delays. I wanted it perfect (yeah, right), I needed to check the POV for the 700th time (a great stall technique that muggles don’t really understand), I needed to give Brit a sharper edge, Bill a more realistic back-story. The list goes on.

I poured eight and a half months into this 70,000+ word novel. That was enough time. Tolsty probably published War and Peace in that same time frame. Why couldn’t I hit the publish button? One simple word. I lacked courage.

You held me down, but I got up
Already brushing off the dust
You hear my voice, you hear that sound
Like thunder gonna shake the ground

We are told every day that we can’t do something. If you leave here, you’ll never find another job. You are such a loser, who else will ever hire you? Whether it’s your boss, or a co-worker, you may have heard something like this before. You can’t stand up to me, I’m bigger and stronger. Bullies stand over our cowering children, and as adults we do so little. You can’t leave me, no one will ever want a person like you. We allow others to define who we are. You can’t write (or publish) a novel. You don’t know the first thing about it. In my case, this was true – very true. But the voice badgering me came from inside my own head. Self-doubt, self-loathing, self-shame. We need to give ourselves a break, the benefit of the doubt. We can do anything we put our minds to.

I got the eye of the tiger, a fighter, dancing through the fire
'Cause I am a champion and you’re gonna hear me roar
Louder, louder than a lion
'Cause I am a champion and you’re gonna hear me roar

Who says you can’t start anew? Who says you’re a loser and that’s all you’ll ever be? Who says you’re a rotten person, incapable of love? Who says you’re not good enough to do anything? Those cretins that surround you every day with their negativity? No, don’t listen to them. Maybe it’s a co-worker or your spouse. Break the mold. Aspire to be a better person … and then do it. Become that person; the one you dream about becoming every single day. Go For It! You deserve it.

But let’s be honest. Many times we are our own worst enemy. It’s what’s rolling around in our own heads that stop us and hold us back. You can change that. It’s hard, but you can win. And you deserve it.

Take a deep breath, close your eyes, and exhale. Now, repeat after me:
I can and will become the person I want to be. I will be fearless and tenacious in obtaining my goals. Nothing will stand in my way. Nothing will stop me.

‘Cause I am a champion and you’re gonna hear me roar.

As always, I wish you the best of everything. Go out and live your dreams.
(And thank you Katy Perry for the inspiring words shown in bold above).


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Print Books vs. eBooks...Is there a Winner?

If you've read anything on the above subject, you understand how confusing the subject is. At one point, a month or so ago, I read something about ebooks outselling print books by 20%. The other day I saw an article exclaiming that in 2017 ebooks will over take the printed word. Wait, these are conflicting views. Which is right? Or are they both correct.

It turns out that both the above statements are true. There's just a qualifier or two that needs to be added to either/both. At this time in the fiction genre ebooks out sell print books 3 to 2. At least that's what I found on the web this morning. That number is subject to change depending on what source you choose to use. But, and this is the big catch, nonfiction print books far outsell ebooks – something like 2 to 1 as far as I could discern. That's substantial if you are a nonfiction author.

Since I write dystopian fiction, let's stick to that world for now.

First, ebooks

In the ebook world of fiction, Amazon has an approximate 65% market share (again, it depends on your source and I'm summarizing from two or three consistent sources I found). Barnes and Noble captures about 11% of the market followed by iBook (Apple). Apple has about 8% of the ebook share in this country. Depending on who you believe Apple has overtaken B&N slightly this past year - or - they are still fairly even - or - B&N is still ahead. All I know for sure is they are both lightyears behind Amazon. All other sources make up the remainder of the market (approximately 13%).

My summary of ebooks tells me this: you should have your fiction novel in ebook format and you should at the very least be on Amazon. This way your book will have maximum exposure.

But don't forget about B&N, iBooks, Sony Reader, and others. If you are too myopic with your sales it would seem you are leaving money on the table. If you sell 65 books this month on Amazon, applied logic from above suggests that you might expect to sell 11 on B&N and another 8 or so on iBooks. If you sell at $2.99, that's another $37 or so in commissions. Not a huge number, but money's money.

The flip side; Printed Books

If you are selling 100 ebooks a month, logic dictates you may be able to sell 66 print book to boot. Remember, digital outsells print 3 to 2, but they are not mutually exclusive. Depending on your price point and commission structure you could easily make another $130 bottom line commission from print sales. And that's nothing to sneeze at folks.

Now, if you happen to be a nonfiction author, forget everything I just said. Depending on your genre and the type of book you create (textbook vs cookbook vs historical) print sales outpace ebooks by 2 to 1. You HAVE TO have hard copies of your books available for sale. Whether on Amazon, or Barnes & Noble, or even your own website, it is crucial you have tangible books for sale.

But don't forget ebooks. The cost of converting a manuscript into eBook format is negligible nowadays and in a lot of cases you can do it yourself. The bottom line here is to keep all your options open.

Okay, have I confused you completely? Well, I hope not. Do your homework and you'll be able to figure out how much time, effort, and money to spend on the creation of either format. The info is out there...and there's lots of it. Just don't necessarily believe the first article you read. It always helps to get as many opinions as you can.

Something for my readers

Research also shows that as many as 60% of all downloaded/purchased ebooks never get read. Can that really be true? Certainly not the buyers of my fiction, right? I'm sure every last book sold has been read cover to cover by now. Perhaps two or three times in some cases. At least I hope so.

Until next time, stay cool this summer. Sit in the shade and read a great book.


Monday, June 9, 2014

Preppers vs Regular Folks

My initial plan for this post was to make it something like The Hunger Games. A competition could be constructed: a difficult course for the Preppers - put on a suit and tie and make your way through rush hour traffic to a job in some major metro area...downtown of course. Oh yeah, and the tie has to be a full-windsor. None of this easy tie a half-windsor garbage.

For the regular folks - walk from their home to the nearest shooting range. Once there, allowing no time for rest or EMT support, properly load a 7.62X39 clip with ten shots and then get that clip in the gun. Shooting you say – Why make them shoot? – I respond. Have you ever tried to get the clip loaded in a Ruger Mini-30? First time they pull the action back to load a round, the clip will most likely fall out. Shooting...we'll work on that some other time.

Yeah, I suppose we could hold a competition like above. But wouldn't that just feed into the stereotypes that already exist? (And I don't just mean for Preppers...)

What does a Prepper look like?

Sadly, many non-preppers think that's what a typical prepper couple looks like. Standing around in gas masks waiting for Armageddon to suddenly appear. Inside their fortified home, they have an arsenal of weapons, ready to launch a counter-attack on the zombies when they arrive. Right? Ha!

For the most part, the average prepper looks like you and me. They have a regular family, hold down a regular job, go to regular schools, and even shop at regular stores. They don't get hundreds of deliveries every week from PrepperDotCom or DoomsdayOrUs. They like baseball, hot dogs, apple pie, and Mom. 

They may be in good shape or not. Some folks are more mentally and materialistically prepared than others. They have a bug-out plan. Or stockpiles of food like rice and beans. Perhaps 50 extra gallons of gas stored in their garage. Or maybe just an idea of what they plan to do, or where they plan to meet their family when the SHTF.

How do regular folks (the unprepared) look to Preppers?

Okay. perhaps. But not really. I have several distant relatives that could be called hard core preppers. The most common belief they have about the non-prepared is that they just don't understand why these people are so ignorant. Not of some impending danger that is about to happen, but just in general. There are a lot of things that can happen, a lot, and many of them are bad. 

Something as minor as an earthquake could have a substantial portion of our country (okay, California) in quite a bind in a matter of 30 seconds. Think of the aftermath; power outages, loss of food and water, medical facilities destroyed. What will you do if you don't have any sort of plan on what to do next? I'm not talking about something as all-out as a secret fortress, stockpiled with food and water for 100 days. How about where will you and your family meet up if the event finds everyone spread throughout the city when it strikes? Have you even thought about that?

I am not a Prepper!

Not per se. My wife and I, along with other family members, do have a bug-out location. We own weapons (and plenty of ammo) with which to protect ourselves. We have some (read that as a small amount) extra food at our off-site location to sustain us for a while. We'd have to pillage a bit for more supplies. Although I am sort of handy with a rifle and a bow, so we could have some sort of protein from time to time.

Preppers look at me and chuckle. Regular folks check out my weapon cache and usually say, "So, you're one of those kinds." I'm somewhere in the middle. But isn't that the point of this exercise? Aren't most people somewhere in the middle? The 80 percent? Yeah, we are. Ten percent of the folks out there are clueless; ten percent are full blown ready. Most of us have an idea of how to survive, but it's just not all that well planned out.

So when Armageddon finally does arrive, it's nice to know I'll have lots of company rummaging through food supplies by my side. For the first time in a long while, I can honestly say, I'm just average.

For the first time ever, I'm going to recommend my debut novel as a summer read for you. It portrays what happens to an average man when the SHTF. You can find it here: WWIV - In The Beginning.
Until next time, read on my friends.


Tuesday, June 3, 2014

An Author's Life: Two Months In

On March 28, 2014 I published my debut novel, WWIV - In The Beginning. Within six weeks my second novel will be available, WWIV - Kids at War. So, how have I done so far? My highs? My lows? Is this everything I expected? Today, I plan to let you know the answers to these and other questions.

Question 1 - What were my goals and how have I succeeded this far in meeting those goals?

Initially I felt if I could sell one book a day for the first 30 days I'd been in good shape. For the second month I hoped for two or three books a days. Thus, my 60 day goal was somewhere in the range of 150 to 200 books, but I would have been please with 100 in total.

How have I done? I can't think of a way to say this without it sounding self-congratulatory, but I'll try. As of May 31 my total sales and borrows were just south of 1,600 books. And that's on Amazon (Kindle version) alone. Somewhere near the end of June, book one of the series (In the Beginning) will be available on Barnes and Noble, as well as other outlets, and in paperback. But to get back to my answer, I've been blessed and have sold far more copies of this initial novel than I could have ever dreamt.

Question 2 - What have been your highs and lows thus far?

Immediately after hitting the publish button I read a story on another blog, by a reputable source, that selling books wasn't easy. To be more precise, most indie authors sold less than 250 books a year. And, in a lot of cases, some books never sell a single copy.

My heart froze; what had I gotten myself into? Why did I ever think I could become a published author? How would I ever find readers for my novel? I took a few deep breaths and reminded myself I didn't get into this author gig to make money, or sell books, or become a famous writer. I did it because I wanted to; I wanted to tell my stories. Regardless of how well they may, or may not, be received. This was the low point in my journey thus far. The first, and only, instance of self doubt.

Then came the good stuff.

I sold exactly zero books the first day on Amazon. That was to be expected. Day two brought my first sale. Euphoric is the only way I can describe how I felt that day. Sunday, day three, brought me two additional sales. I was on top of the world. But Monday brought me back to earth – zero sales again. Oh well, at least I sold three copies. I was happy.

That seems like years ago now. Since then I did a small blog tour and experienced several days over 40 sales and even a day at 56. Not bad for a rookie. I knew the dreaded sales cliff may be fast approaching, so I held my breath. I've slumped some, but not much. I've only had one day of less than 20 sales in the past five weeks, and that was 19. I recent did a two-day Kindle Countdown Deal and sold more than 200 copies in 50 hours.

Question 3 - What is your current status on Amazon?

During the first few weeks I stayed in the 50,000 to 70,000 range of ranked books. I had a dream one night that I was in the top 20,000. I woke up excited and check my spot: still somewhere around 48,000. Oh well, it was a nice dream.

Then came the sales spike with the Book Blog Tour. I cracked the top 10,000 and got as high as 3,990. We need to remember something here: there are about 2.5 million Kindle Books. #4,000 puts you in the top 0.15% of the rankings. But you still haven't made it as a full-time author. Unless you can live on less than $30K a year.

With my recent KCD I rose into the mid 1,400 range. Since then I've settled in somewhere between 2,500 and 3,500 – a nice spot in my mind.

Question 4 - How have you achieved this success? Any secrets?

I'm still not 100% sure why this book has caught a nice wave, and other novels by much better indie authors than myself haven't. But I can speculate.

First, I am fairly certain it has something to do with the awesome readers and fans in my chosen genre – Dystopian and Post-Apocalyptic. These are great people and I appreciate their support so very very much. So, choose your genre carefully when putting your novel on Amazon.

Next, and I am very sure of these points, comes what everyone tells you to do to make a good book.

  1. Write a good original story
  2. Have it professionally edited
  3. Have your cover professionally designed
  4. Create a great title that fits the book
That's my secret; I followed the advice of many well published authors before me. I paid some money upfront and it has paid dividends that I could have never imagined.

Okay, here's a couple other things I have done to help the process move forward. I have a blog, I have a website, a FaceBook page. I Tweet regularly and post to G+ as often as I can. I am a member of Goodreads and try to beta read at least one indie author a month. Other than that, I work a regular job and pay attention to my wonderful family. I wish I had a top secret plan I could give you for my success (albeit limited thus far), but there isn't one.

Plans for the future? Keep reading, keep writing, publish three novels a year and never, ever sit back pridefully being full of myself. Never! Like most things in life, I'm most likely only as good as my next book. So I continue to work hard at making the next book better than the last.

I've been honest with my numbers and feeling above. Perhaps too honest for some. Please remember, I'm only giving you a glimpse into what I've accomplished to let everyone out there, who may be struggling, know that whatever you dream is, it's achievable. You have to believe you can do it. Whatever IT is. If I had sold just one book so far, I'd be content. Because that meant that at least one person was willing to give up their hard earned money to read something I created. If that doesn't make a writer happy, I'm not sure what will.

Until next time – read, read, read. June is a great time to start a lengthy classic novel like War and Peace. Consider a classic for your summertime list.