Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Remnants Free on Amazon Kindle Today Only!

For today only, get Remnants, book 1 of the Remnants Saga, for free on Amazon Kindle!

If you enjoy it, please leave me a review on Amazon! I love to receive your feedback.


Wednesday, August 9, 2017

How to Price Your eBook: Why Luxury Brands Don't Compete On Price and You Shouldn’t Either

One of the biggest struggles I’ve had as an indie author is switching caps between my Writer Self and my Business Self.

For me, my Writer Self is the one who loves writing, creating, imagining, and dreaming. I’d rather focus on the fun stuff – the craft of writing, if you will. It’s why I do this in the first place.

However, my Business Self is what needs to kick in when it comes time to actually sell books. “Sales” can seem like a bit of a curse word to people who are focused on their craft, but it’s something we all need to learn if we’re to achieve that ever-distant dream of supporting ourselves with our craft.

Making Good Art should definitely be a focus. You won’t feel proud selling it if it isn’t good. But, if you have generated a quality piece of work, applying some business sense to the mix will do wonders for you. And some of that business sense means knowing your value, i.e. knowing what to charge.

One of the top mantras you’ll hear in most business models is as follows: Don’t Compete On Price. What does that mean? Don’t try to always have the cheapest product. Cheap products attract bargain shoppers. While we can all understand shopping on a budget, luxury and entertainment purveyors (which includes authors) don’t make a living by marketing to people who claim they can’t afford certain products.

The problem with offering the cheapest product is that it’s possible to eventually get priced out of the market. If your goal is to actually make some money, it’s a lot harder on 99 cent eBooks at a 35% royalty rate than on something more reasonable, and more reflective of your time, effort, and talent.

My Writer Self balks at that lesson. I want to share my craft, and be accessible, and frankly, I feel very hurt when critics suggest my price is too high. I struggle between wanting to be an artist and wanting to support myself doing what I love.

Here’s the thing: you can experiment with pricing. You can have promotions to offer people more opportunities to buy your book, and you can optimize your pricing to find the best range for your target readership. But, don’t feel like you must impoverish yourself for the sake of your art. You have a dream, and your dream is valid.

You may get the occasional nay-sayer, who leaves you a bad review without ever even reading your book, merely to complain, “This isn’t worth the $2.99 price tag! You should price your book at 99 cents!” This type of review says more about the bitter, haughty reviewer than it does about you. Other, more reasonable people recognize that. Don’t get sucked into the price wars that do a disservice to you, your readers, and your fellow authors.

And, really, here’s what’s at issue: is a 2 dollar price difference really that substantial when it comes to buying a book? The effect of 2 dollars on a single reader’s pocket book isn’t huge; but the cumulative effect it has for you as an author who wants to be in the business of writing is game-changing. On Amazon, it’s the difference between 35% and 70%, and being that much closer to your dream of supporting yourself with your writing.

You work hard to turn your dreams into reality, and it takes strength to share your writing with the world and to be vulnerable to other people’s comments and criticisms. When you deliver a quality product, you deserve to have it recognized, and to have pricing that reflects that. For the readers who love you, it isn’t about price, but about delivering the best work you possibly can to them.


My new dystopian young adult book, Remnants, is available on Amazon Kindle for the reasonable price of $2.99. Feel free to check it out and let me know what you think!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Why Do Fans Love Dystopian Stories?

The Apocalypse.

The End of the World (as we know it).

Dystopia.

Whatever you want to call it, we’re pretty obsessed with it.

From The Walking Dead to The Hunger Games, plus hits like Divergent and just about every zombie movie ever made, we are fascinated with depictions of the end times. We ruminate over barren wastelands, isolation, and the musings of what a desolate future might hold after a world gone mad.

The End comes in any number of ways. Drought. Nuclear war. Disease. Undead. Asteroid. The result is always the same: small pockets of survivors strive to endure, confronting challenges that range from murderous hoards to depleted resources. Plus, there are always those who want to take advantage of the misfortune of others for personal gain.



Whatever the focus, these types of stories are dark. The future of mankind is bleak, the setting is usually harsh and unforgiving, and despair and hopelessness are omnipresent.

So, why on Earth do we love reading about this stuff? What’s the appeal of post-apocalyptic movies and TV shows? Are we all just crazy gluttons for punishment? Here, we’ll take a look at a handful of reasons why we love dystopian stories.

1) The Select Few Endure

As depressing as these stories are, we love to follow the heroes and heroines, envisioning ourselves in their shoes. How would we react if we were one of the chosen few? What steps would we take to become Certified Badasses capable of surviving in a post-apocalyptic world? How would we help rebuild society?

Dystopian fiction provides some of the escapism we all need to step back and get perspective on our lives, and stepping into the shoes of a strong hero for a little while can help us feel empowered and refreshed.

2) We Can Rebuild

When the real world is already full of hopelessness, why pile on? Because dystopian and post-apocalyptic stories are about more than devastation: they are about survival after the worst has happened. Underneath the despair is the glimmer of potential: we can overcome these challenges, and make a better world.

3) We Kind of Want the World to Burn

Wait, what?

No, you read that right. Many of us are psychologically inclined to want the end of the world to happen.
 
Contemplating the end of the world triggers certain fear responses, which some people are wired to crave. Whether it’s a case of needing validation, a fatalistic outlook on life, or a desire to escape individual responsibility, dystopian stories give us the psychological rush we need.


It’s not entirely unhealthy, either. In fact, “preppers,” people who actively prepare for a doomsday scenario, are engaging in goal-oriented behavior that therapists often recommend to people in crisis.

What about you? Are you into the dystopian genre? What’s the appeal for you? And what are your favorite dystopian movies, books, and authors?


If you enjoy dystopian fiction, I invite you to check out my latest novel, Remnants, now available on Wattpad and Amazon Kindle.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Enter to win your free eBook copy of Remnants!

Interested in winning a free eBook? Follow me on Twitter and you'll be entered to win! Must use the link provided, no purchase necessary: click here to enter.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Remnants Now Available Via Kindle!

So, after spending the past couple months re-working parts of the book and editing some more, I released Remnants on Amazon today. Give it a look, and leave a review if you enjoyed it! Thanks everyone for your support. This has been a long-running project and I've really had fun working on it, and I look forward to seeing what it holds for me in the future.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Some Kindle Scout Insights

So, I ran a Kindle Scout Campaign. My campaign ran from April 22nd until May 21st, 2017, and then I suffered through the nebulous waiting period that can last anywhere from 1 day to 15 days. Sadly, I received a rejection email on day 14. If I'd been successful, I would have gone through their preparation process, including editing, promotion, free book distribution, and eventual options for rights reversion.

For those of us not selected, we still have the option to launch our books independently, and to send out a notification to our nominators that the book is now available on Amazon, a fact that I took advantage of recently, after some editing and stylistic changes on the recommendation of an editor. At long last, Remnants is now available via Amazon for your perusal and enjoyment.

By publishing independently, I just won't get the advance, or the Amazon editing process. I retain all rights and can just advertise the book myself, as an independent author.

Sitting here at the end of my Kindle Scout journey (though certainly just the beginning of my writing journey overall), I have a few things in the "if I had it to do over again" column I wanted to share, in case anyone else is thinking of doing Kindle Scout as well:

1) It's important to be Hot & Trending, as it increases your visibility, as well as your credibility to casual observers. It seems that relatively unknown authors, like me, are more likely to be Hot & Trending at the very beginning of their campaigns, and at the very end. This is because of the "Recently Added" and "Ending Soon" promo bars on which you can be featured during those timeframes. After that, getting and staying Hot & Trending is very challenging.

2) In light of this information, I would have picked a launch day where the beginning and the end of my 30 day campaign would land on a Tuesday/Wednesday. My campaign began on a Saturday and ended on a Sunday. Frankly, not many people are cavorting the Internet over the weekend. My clicks from Facebook were down those days, as were the organic Kindle Scout clicks. Based on my Campaign Views dashboard, regardless of when I posted on social media, my highest traffic days were usually Tuesdays or Wednesdays, with the exception of the very beginning and very end of my campaign, where activity spiked.

NOTE: Part of this is how nominations work. Users can only have 3 nominations active at a time. Your friends and family will probably only nominate you, so they will just set it and forget it right at the beginning of your campaign. Kindle Scout followers are more likely to Save your book, then nominate you during your final days, so they can maximize the number of nominations (and potential free books) and not have your book taking up a slot for the book's entire 30 day campaign.

3) Also in light of this information, I would have staggered my roll-out. I posted so that all of my Facebook friends (which was my biggest source of traffic) jumped on at once. This was great for the first five days of my campaign, but then things tapered off until the last 3 days. I think a better strategy for someone else doing this would be setting the Privacy settings on the Facebook posts so that you post only to 1/4 of your friends at the beginning of the campaign, then add friends to the posts as your campaign goes on so in week 2, 1/2 of your friends are seeing the posts, then 3/4 in week 3, then all of them in week 4.

This would be easy enough to do on Facebook - plus you could group it so that your most supportive friends see the posts first, and can do what they do best. Then, your more distant friends could be in later groups, sparing them spam until the end of the campaign. This would make your campaign traffic a little more consistent throughout the campaign - you'd (hopefully) get new nominations and new, fresh page views each week, from people who didn't know about it before.

4) I would also suggest networking actively with the other authors who are doing Kindle Scout. It's no time to be shy - if you like their book, reach out, and offer to cross-promote. I wouldn't suggest doing this if you don't like the author's book to begin with. But, for those you peruse and like, you have access to their campaign pages, where they link to their Facebook and author pages. So, make contact, and discuss some exchanges. The worst they can do is say "no." I did not do very much of this, because I am currently at a level where I don't have much to offer in exchange - my author page has limited followers, and I don't have a solid base of readers yet, but once I've grown a bit, I'd definitely do this in a heartbeat.

If you're thinking of doing Kindle Scout for yourself, I hope you'll find these ideas useful. If you've done Kindle Scout and have anything to add, feel free to chime in.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Remnants Now Available for Nominations via Amazon - Kindle Scout

I was accepted into the Amazon Kindle Scout Program! This is really exciting, as it means I could get selected for a publishing contract with Amazon! And that means promotional opportunities and things I otherwise couldn’t get as easily as a fledgling author. It’s also a pretty good fit for me and the kind of writing I do now, while still working hard on my law career.

For the Scout program, they want to know you have a marketable book, so they ask you to collect votes before they decide to award you with the publishing contract. Since it’s through Amazon, you don’t have to sign up for anything extra outside your usual Amazon account, and voting is FREE. Also, if you vote and I get published, you get a FREE copy of the eBook when it’s published! So, I’m asking folks if they wouldn’t mind voting for my book on the Scout page:


Also, if you might consider copying & pasting the link to share on Facebook/Twitter/Your Blog/Your dog (… OK not really, though dog shirts are cool…), I’d be eternally grateful. This is a really good opportunity, so I appreciate your support.

IN ADDITION, if I do get selected for the publication opportunity, I receive a small advance. Some of it, I will be using to build up my author platform (a better website, for starters), but my intention is to take HALF of the net proceeds (i.e. after taxes) and donate to organizations I care about. I appreciate all the support I get to make my dreams come true, so I want to support others in their dreams and causes, too. So, after taxes, it’ll add up to about $200 per organization; and the places I’m giving to are:

  • ALIVE Rescue at http://www.aliverescue.org/ (animal rescue in Chicago specializing in assisting dogs with canine influenza, which can often be a death sentence for dogs in shelters)
  •  National Novel Writing Month at http://nanowrimo.org/ (I’ve been working with them since 2007 to motivate and inspire new writers, and without them, I never would have written a book to begin with)
  • Locked Into Vacancy Entertainment at http://www.lockedintovacancy.com/ (an audio variety show in the style of old time radio, a number of my dearest friends are part of this company and I want to see them succeed)

I also wanted to mention another few folks who made this possible. The original idea for a dystopian take on Robin Hood came from the photo shoot designed and photographed via Steven Bourelle, whose incredible work can be found at http://www.bourellephoto.com/ - as well as Grayson Coleman-Selby, a talented Renaissance faire performer and worker who you can see LOTS MORE OF at https://www.facebook.com/therenmen/?ref=br_rs 

Thank you again for your support!


-Stacy