75K! I can see the end from here!

As my month of intensive writing draws to a close, and the new school year looms large, I am taking a minute to examine what I've done with "Caretakers" (still not 100% on the name), and what still needs to be done.

I plotted and planned most of the book during the month of July using a workbook that I created based on my experience writing "Here Be Monsters" last year. I worked to balance new story with backstory, including details from HBM, "Mickey Slips", and "Bound for Home", woven in with the storyline of "Caretakers".

I've written about 75,000 words, which is about the finished length of my first draft of HBM last summer; "Caretakers" is shaping up to be more like 90, 000 (or a bit more) when all is said and done.

I reread HBM before starting this project, and still love the book. It turned out exactly the way that I wanted it to...for better or worse, that's my novel. "Caretakers" is a bit more ambitious in some ways: there's more mystery, less blood & more chilling/nasty, some different character perspectives, and some complex plot twists.

I've been enjoying writing it, and can't wait to get it into the hands of some beta readers, so that together we can begin the long, sometimes painful process, of tweaking and polishing the story.

I anticipate needing about ten more chunks of writing time, which I should be able to get in during the month of September.

Thanks for all of the support, and for making this month my best month of sales ever (over 700 copies of my books sold online and in local bookstores!).



Hoss's 28th Annual Author's Night

Yesterday afternoon my wife and I drove down from Lake Clear to Long Lake. It's a lovely drive, and reason enough to take my Honda for a spin, but we had plans: I'd been invited to attend the 28th Annual Author's Night at Hoss's Country Corner, a Northcountry institution for almost 40 years.

{for those interested, my name is second from the top in the column to the right}
Author's night is an event that Hoss's hosts to bring together writers whose subject matter is the Adirondacks. We initially got together for a nice cookout dinner at the Long Lake Pavilion, which is up the side of a hill over the Hamlet of Long Lake, offering a pretty view of this lovely little town. When Gail and I arrived, there was a pair of deer watching the setup with interest, but by the time all 82 Adirondack Authors (and their minions) had arrived, the deer had melted back into the woods. During and after dinner, writers mixed and mingled a bit, talking about...books (and writing, and reading).

We got down to the big tent set up behind the main building of Hoss's around 5:45, and set up my space on the table, with copies of "Here Be Monsters" from Hoss's shelves, and some info-cards about "Mickey Slips" and "Bound for Home" flanking the print books.

By six, people were starting to show up (although the event was scheduled to run from 7-9pm), but Gail managed to take a picture that shows off my new table sign (with some info about the books and me).

 By the time things really got moving, the tent was packed with readers and writers, all talking about, and looking at, books...it was a blast talking with everyone there, and selling books to boot. I think there must have been 500 (or more) people in town last night for the event at Hoss's!

Gail, my talented minion, managed to catch this moment, when I was talking with a reader who was so enthusiastic about the local nature of my book (see her new and signed copy under her right arm), that the woman next to her snatched up a copy as if they might disappear)...it was my only double sale of the night, but I had a lot of nice talks about books and writing and storytelling during the course of the evening.

I look forward to going again next year, by then I should have three print books to sell...HBM, "Caretakers". and the collection of Tyler Cunningham shorts. 

Thanks Hoss's!



3 Tips to Sell More Copies of Your Ebooks, and Why Reviews Matter

August is eleven days old, and it is already far and away my best month of sales as a writer...EVER!

I've sold over 600 copies of my three ebooks and feel that it's directly attributable to three decisions that I made...

  1. Drop the price of your ebook to 99 cents. My novel, "Here Be Monsters" had been $7.99. My two novellas, "Mickey Slips" and Bound for Home", had been $2.99. There's a significant psychological barrier/difference, and if your aim is to get your book in front of the maximum number of eyes, garner reviews, and make a bit of money, then 99 cents is a great place to set your pricepoint.
  2. Use your network. I made up an ad and shared it with my author's network through Facebook and Twitter and Google+ and this blog. That alone was enough to sell about 30 copies of each book in the first few days of the month.
  3. Use a promotion service like ereadernewstoday.com (ENT). They are able to reach out to hundreds of thousands of members and suggest your book to them. The next one on my list to try (at some point) is bookbub.com, which requires an initial outlay of money, but has proven/respected results in the indie author community.

Now, what the next thing that I need is to find a way to translate some of those 600 sales into reviews for my work.  Independent authors like me rely on reviews to increase the visibility of our books, and help people see and buy and read them (there are lots of books out there, and if nobody sees it, nobody reads it).

If you are one of the people who took advantage of the 99 cent pricing to buy one or more of my books, first off ... Thank you!

Second, I would ask that after you have read the book(s) you follow the link on the back page of the ebook back to my author page at Amazon.com, and leave a review. 

A review does not need 5-stars (although we authors do like those ones). It should have a description of what you liked about the book, what sort of readers would likely enjoy the book in your opinion, and what you hope to see from the author in the future.

I particularly need reviews for my latest ebook, "Bound for Home", as it only has 4 reviews so far, and needs at least 10 before I can promote it via ENT. If you have read it, and could leave a review, I'd be very grateful.




Novel Writing Update!

Here's a teaser I played around with a bit yesterday while eating my lunch

I'm writing the next Tyler Cunningham novel. In some ways, it's more fun than reading a good book; in some ways, it's the most frustrating thing I've ever done.

I had the first novel, "Here Be Monsters" in my head (big and sloppy parts of it at any rate) for years before I ever started typing. The two companion novellas, "Mickey Slips" and "Bound for Home" were shorter and easier writing projects, lacking the depth and breadth of story and characters as a novel. That being the case, I was understandably nervous going into the summer, which I have designated as my serious writing time.

I did a lot of planning and thinking and list-making, as well as drawing lines and bubbles on big pieces of paper, to help me get a feel for this next book before I began the writing.

I set myself a goal of 2,000 words each and every day in the month of August (a touch more than the NaNoWriMo goal of 1667 WPD), and so far I've beat my goal every day.

As of yesterday afternoon, when the whistle blew in my head, I had about 24,000 words written on "Caretakers" so far. It's not exact because the novel is currently living in numerous files in different neighborhoods of my laptop, and I'm not planning on compiling it into one piece until I'm done.

"Caretakers" is going to be a longer and more complex novel than "Here Be Monsters" was/is: it's written in multiple voices over multiple generations, it's more of an actual mystery than HBM ended up being, and there is much more historical and regional information and involvement and interaction in this story.

It's a wonderful feeling to sit down each day and tell a piece of this story, and the best part is thinking about sharing the finished product with people who have enjoyed the first three books, and are ready and waiting for more.

I'll post more updates as the project continues to move forward; I wrote this blog entry this morning instead of beginning work for the day only because I have a doctor's appointment mid-morning, and haven't been allowed coffee yet, which is an integral part of my writing process.

My plan is to finish the lion's share of the novel during the month of August, before my other job begins for the schoolyear, finish the writing during September/October, and then work with my editing team during November and December to get it into shape for publication in early 2014 (keep your fingers crossed).




Blog Tour Visit from Donna Huber!

An Interview with Donna Huber:

Some Background & Biographical Information:
Donna Huber is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the blogger behind Girl Who Reads where, in addition to book reviews and author appearances, she writes the popular blogging advice series, Tips on Thursday. She has worked as a freelance publicist since 2010 assisting publishers and authors with their marketing and publicity needs. Most notably, she was the publicist for The Writer’s Coffee Shop Publishing House edition of Fifty Shades of Grey and Fifty Shades Darker by E. L. James. 

When she is not doling out blogging advice or promoting the next bestseller, she can be found spending time with family (particularly the four legged, furry members), rewatching Downton Abbey and Harry Potter, or trying to make a dent in her never ending to-be-read pile.

The Interview:
{this is an interview tool I created especially for writers - JS}
Q) Tell me about your book.
A) Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour is a how-to manual for authors. Though written for authors, it has useful information for bloggers who want to host better tours and tour companies who are looking for ideas.

Q) What kind of research did you do for this book?
A) A lot of my research for Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour came from my own experience. I'm an experiential learner. I have to do it to truly understand. I participated in a few tours with different companies as well as did reading on best marketing practices and then I would apply what I liked to tours I organized. Thankfully I've had a few authors who were willing to experiment with me.

Q) Do you work with an outline, or just write?
A) Since my writing background is as a blogger, I tend to just write. When I decided to turn my tips post into an ebook, I did a simple outline so I would know which posts I needed to pull together.

Q) What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
A) I don't really have a schedule when it comes to writing. I have a full-time day job as an administrative associate, but I'm also a freelance publicist. So after a full day at the office, I come home and put in another 3 or so hours doing PR for authors. Then there is my blog. I typically set up the week's posts on Sunday afternoons. If I want to work on a book, Saturday is it. When I decided to put together Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour I didn't have any pressing PR work so I spent a weekend pulling it all together. And then the next two weekends revising.

Q) What do you do when you are not writing?
A) I do a lot of reading. As a book blogger I'm always getting asked to review someone's book. I love it since I get to discover a bunch of new to me authors. I have two dogs and two cats so there's often a lot of time spent cuddling. I also have a niece and nephew nearby and spend just about every other weekend with doing something with them.

Q) What book are you reading now?
A) That's a loaded question as I rarely read only one book at a time. Right now I have 3 books in progress - Trail of the Spellmans by Lisa Lutz (this is just for me), Hickey of the Beast by Isabel Kunkle (a book for review), and I Couldn't Love You More by Jillian Medoff (my pool book, but also for review).

Q) Is there any particular author or book that particularly influenced you?
A) I think I first got the idea that it was possible to turn a blog into a book from Rachel Thompson (author of Broken Pieces, Mancode, and A Walk in the Snark). Coral Russell, author The DIY Guide to Social Media and eBook Publishing, along with Donna Brown, author of Double Take Tales, really encouraged me to turn my Tips on Thursday into an ebook. They were among the first to plant the seed that I might one day write a book. There have been a half a dozen or so other authors who have encouraged me and supported me in this process.

Q) What do you think makes a good story?
A) Good characters are really important to me. If I care and connect with the characters, I'll go along with an implausible plot line just to find out what happens to the characters.

Q) What project are you working on now?
A) I'm not really working on anything right now. I've been busy with book events for a few of my clients. But I'm always working on content through my Tips on Thursday series and when I get another slow month I'm going to work on another how-to manual for authors - creating marketing plans.

Q) What’s the best thing about being an author?
A) I know technically I'm an author, but it isn't what I consider myself. I think of myself as a blogger first. But probably what I like most so far is knowing that I'm helping others. Some many authors can't afford to hire a tour company or a publicist and I like knowing that I've given them tools to get their book noticed.

Q) What is the hardest part of writing for you?
A) Finding time is probably the biggest challenge. I always worry about whether I've explained things well enough or not. Also, I have a lot of information in my head, but until someone asks me about it I don't think about. Trying to pull out from my brain what I know can be difficult sometimes.

Q) How long does it take you to write a book?
A) I wrote Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour in a weekend. Well, sort of. I actually wrote the post that the book is based on a year before. I've been writing my tips posts for almost two years.
Q) What has been the toughest criticism (and the best compliment) given to you as an author?
A) I've gotten a lot of compliments on my knowledge of the subject and how I clearly laid out to organize a tour, which is something I really worried about.

Q) Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
A) It's never too early to start marketing your book. That doesn't mean talking about your book all the time, but creating a presence so that people know who your are when your product hits the market.

About her new book:
From the publicist who introduced the world to Fifty Shades of Grey, Donna Huber is now revealing her secrets to successful blog tours. She shares tips and tricks learned through organizing over 30 tours, blasts, and promotional events for nearly 50 independently and traditionally published titles. 

Secrets revealed in this quick read include,
Planning stage decisions
Different types of tours
Recruiting bloggers and keeping requests organized
Best practice communication tips 
Tricks to making a great guest appearance
How to organize a fun (and legal) giveaway
Actions to take during the tour
Next steps once the tour is complete
Virtual tour and other promotional opportunities
When to hire a professional

In this easy to follow manual, Donna does not stop there. She spills even more of her blog tour secrets to help authors get the most out of their events by providing,

Tour checklist
Tour invite tips
Step-by-step guide to creating tour graphics
10 broad guest post topics
25 sample interview questions

Donna's Book, "Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour" is available now, and you can find out more about the book and/or buy a copy using the links and information below:

Social Media Links:

Buy Links:
Amazon(US) Amazon(UK) 

Good Luck Donna!