WWIV Book 1

FOUR WWIV Books are now available on Amazon.
Click here for more information.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Special 99¢ Deal: WWIV - Kid at War (Limited Time Only)

Sorry, but this deal has ended.
Watch for similar promotions coming in the next few months.
Subscribe to this blog to received all updates, as they are published!

Just in time for another cold Minnesota weekend (or perhaps one more blizzard if you live in the North-East). Book two of my WWIV series (Kids at War) is featured this weekend only as a Kindle Countdown Deal!

February 27th, 28th, and March 1st ONLY
(available only at Amazon)

WWIV - Kids at War

Only 99¢
(click on the picture below for details)

As always, Thank You!

e a lake

My Debut Novel:


Thursday, February 19, 2015

Choose Your Words, and Commas, Wisely

Let's look at a few sentences so we can see what happens when grammar and punctuation are abused.

Let's eat Grandma.

I must admit, this is one of my all-time favorites. We assume that you are calling grandma for lunch or dinner here. Like she's in her room, or favorite chair, taking a nap. But that's not what this sentence really states.

In the sentence above, I can only decipher that grandma is dead, and we are going to have her for supper. What? You ask, reading the line again. Yes, I tell you emphatically, that is the true meaning of that sentence.

Perhaps you meant this instead:

Let's eat, Grandma.

Now that sentence gets across the first idea and leaves no room for doubt as to what you were trying to say. That was fun, let's do another.

Your donation just helped someone. Get a job.

Believe it or not, this comes from a sign at a charitable organization. I saw the sign myself. I'd really like to meet the person who wrote and designed this one. Or even the proofer who gave the go ahead to have these signs made up.

Here the sign offers two thoughts, one intended and the other - well, not so much. My donation helped someone. That's good to know. It makes me feel better when I drop off ten pairs of pants that are almost brand new and don't fit any longer (weight loss, not gain, in my case). I can already envision a man, down on his luck, gleefully pulling on a pair of work-causal khakis.

The second part of the statement (after the period), reminds me to go out and get a job. At the very least, it is reminding someone to get a job (I have two, thank you).

I bet they meant for the sign to read like this:

Your donation just helped someone get a job.

At least I hope that's what they meant. The original version is otherwise slightly rude I'm afraid.

One more before we close for the week.

Cam and Mitchell are competent, loving parents, both are lawyers.

Okay, first off if we are speaking of the two characters on Modern Family, they are not both lawyers. Only Mitchell works in law; Cam is a stay at home dad who does some "clowning" on the side. Glad to get that straightened out up front.

Next, I have no idea what the above sentence is trying to tell me. Are they competent men, loving parents, and lawyers? Perhaps they're competent, loving parents first; and lawyers second. Or maybe they are competent lawyers and loving parents. It's all messed up in my mind.

If I was going to rewrite this sentence, this is what I'd most likely do:

Cam and Mitchell are both competent, loving parents, and lawyers.

I might take the word "both" out of the sentence completely. I think it only adds confusion to the statement.

By the way, it's a good thing I didn't mess up the title of this post. It would have been embarrassing to see it in this form:

Choose Your Words and Comas, Wisely

That's just all kind of wrong and on so many different levels.

Have a great week. In the last month, I've reread The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair and Catch-22, by Joseph Heller. If you haven't read either, I highly recommend them for a great read.

e a lake

My Books:


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Love Your One-Star Reviews

Congrats, you finally got the manuscript published - you know, the one you've been working on for three years. You've toiled away at the keyboard, typed until your fingers were stubs, and finally, it is finished. Time to pop it up on the Big A and see how many copies you sell.

Here Comes The Good Stuff

You're smart; you've lined people up to do some reviews right away; good thinking. This way your novel won't look like to typical "thrown together, rushed indie booklet" you hear so much about. With some actual reviews, hey you stand a chance of getting more readers.

So, Uncle Fred gives you four stars, your mom - five stars (thanks mom), and your neighbor gives you another four star review. Then you stupid cousin from Idaho, the one you doubted you should even send a copy to in the first place, nails you with three stars. A fun delightful read that shows much promise for this author. Perhaps a run through an editor might have helped. That's the last time you ever use him, that's for sure.

Now, The Interesting Happens

Several complete strangers purchase your book and leave a review. Another four-star, which basically says the reader liked it; and a three star where the writer goes on and on about what a great book it was. While this review confuses you, you decide you'll take three stars any day. This is your debut novel, after all.

Thus far, you have six reviews. Your average review score is 3.83; not bad, all things considered. You'll take this for now. Better are right around the corner. Each day you see that you sell a book or two. It won't be long before another couple four and five-star reviews hit the page.

Then, The Bottom Drops Out

A few days later you check your review summary, and you notice the total is 8. Hot Dog, two more reviews. But then your heart skips a beat or two as you stare at your average score. How that heck did it drop to 3.25, you ask yourself?

Here's how: The next reviewer gave it two stars. A quick read, without much substance. Maybe the author's next book will be better. You brush this aside by rolling your eyes; what does this person know about literature?

And then you spot your very first one-star review. Your lips tighten, your stomach knots, you feel your fists balling up. Perhaps the worst book I've ever read, if I could have finished it. Don't waste your money on this drivel. And don't quit your day job, Mr. Author.

If you could form a rational thought at this moment, you might count to ten and take the good with the bad. But you can't. This isn't just a one-star review, it's a personal attack on you!

Here's How You Need To Handle This

1. Do not (I repeat, DO NOT) send a response to this reviewer. So they didn't like your book; not everyone will. And that is the plain and painful truth.

2. Do not get another bunch of your friends to write you sterling five-star reviews to help raise your score. People will see through this tactic. Any book that is five-star heavy, with minimal one and two-star ratings, is suspect to many readers. They figure you got your entire neighborhood to tip the scales (and they're right, aren't they?).

3. Sit Back and Relax. You have officially become a real-life author. I truly believe that until you get blasted like this (it's a reality check for most), you're just putzing around in the minor leagues. You earn your stripes, your chance at the "bigs", and a lot of humility by having one-star reviews.

Let's take any old big title - how about 1984? I just checked on Amazon, here are the stats for Mr. Orwell's classic. The overall rating for this novel is 4.5 on Amazon. Hey, that's pretty darn good. But, and listen to this, there are 279 two and one-star reviews (that's 5% people). This should tell you with no room for doubt, not everyone is going to love your book (or any book for that matter).

I know one-star reviews aren't fun. I have a few in my camp. Six on book one alone (and that's 12%, ugh!). But they come with the territory, I know that now. So, as difficult as this sounds - enjoy them. You've made it my friend!

Until next week, here's hoping you don't live in Boston. Man, they have way too much snow out there; too much for even a Minnesnowta guy like me. I bet ebooks are selling good in New England this winter.

e a lake

My Books:


Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Marketing for Writing Dummies

After more than a year of being a published author, I feel like I've learned some lessons along the way. Dare I say, I'm beginning to feel like an expert in some areas of the independent author game. Remember how Twain defined an Expert: Anyone more than 20 miles from their hometown, carrying a briefcase. In truth, I may not be an expert, but I have learned a little about this book marketing game.

Step One: It Takes Money to Succeed

This may seem obvious, but trust me when I tell you it's not. And any sliver of success in marketing is always based on trial and error.

We all know the story of Hugh Howey, right? Hugh wrote the Wool series and has sold approximately a gazillion books over the past six years or so. Everyone I know likes to point to Hugh's huge following like it can happen to all. When Hugh published the first version of Wool, more of a short story than a novella he admits, the title took off like it was on fire. The secret to his success? Well, it wasn't a big marketing budget because Hugh admits he didn't spend a dime on marketing his first book.

Here's a hard truth for the rest of us: We ain't Hugh Howey. It may happen to the occasional author, but it has about the same odds as winning the lottery this week.

Most of us are going to have to spend some of our otherwise hard-earned money if we expect to see any traction for our titles. But what's the right amount, people ask? Truth be told, no one seems to know. But, dare I say, it's more than zero.

I have several writing friends whom I share ideas with from time to time. One person asked me a while back, how book one in my WWIV series did so well. They were comparing our debut novels; I'd sold about 2,000 copies, they - about 20. When I asked how much they'd spent on marketing, the answer shocked me. Zero, nothing, zilch. That, my friends, is not the correct answer in this case.

Step Two: Spend Your Money Wisely

Let's just get right to the point on this step; I have no idea where you need to invest your cash. I know where I've spent cash in the past, and I can sure tell you (in a general tone) what has and hasn't worked.

One great idea - Sign up for a Book Blog Tour. I spent about $150 one a twelve stop tour about three weeks after the release of my first book. I experienced immediate results in my sales numbers as the tour progressed. In a very unscientific study, I figured I sold approximately $345 in books as a direct effect of the tour. If I could triple my money on every investment, this would be an easy game.

One not so great idea - Make a trailer and do literally nothing with it, except publish it to YouTube. Next, if you really want to watch you cash dissolve, promote it on said channel. Be, sure like me, to direct the watchers of your trailer absolutely nowhere when they finish. Don't send them to your web page, don't bother creating a landing page, and have absolutely no call to action when they are done viewing the video.

Book trailers can be a great marketing plan. Promoting them on YouTube is a sound idea. Just learn from my mistakes and have a slightly better plan going into the promotion. (In my defense, I had no idea what I was doing. But I still managed to spend several hundreds of dollars and received almost 6,000 views. I don't think any of this sold a single book, but I sure liked watching the counter go higher and higher each day).

Step Three: Be Patient and Don't Give Up

Try something, give marketing a shot. Tell yourself you're willing to spend $250 this quarter in marketing. Do some research and find out what's worked for others. Two things will happen: 1) it will force you to actually speak with (or email) other authors - people in the same boat as yourself, and, 2) you may find something that works for you. You never know until you actually try.

But a word for the wise, other people's results may not be the experience you achieve. For example, if I ask my friend the romance writer what she does for marketing, I may get a different result than her from my post-apocalyptic novel. You may have to try and find success more than once. That's usually the way this works.

Do your research, do it well. One common phrase you will hear when it comes to marketing and success is this: There is no one secret formula. Every writer's experience is different. Be ready for that going in. Remember, this is a marathon, not a sprint.

I'm sorry I couldn't divulge any great marketing secrets for you. There just aren't any. So get out there, spend a few bucks, and find something that works for you. If you're not in the mood to spend money, research free book marketing and see what you can come up with. Or, try to become the next Hugh Howey - good luck one that one!

Thanks for reading this post, and have a great week!

e a lake

My Books: