Friday, April 25, 2014

Happenings In The Outhouse 25-Apr-2014 / A free alternative

I've seen Brandon Sanderson do it.

I've also seen James Patterson do it.

And they aren't the only ones.

In my last post, I ripped pretty hard on the whole "free book" marketing technique.  However, there is an alternative I could get behind--besides sampling, that is.  And it is this: offer a larger sample (say 15-20 chapters) for free.  It gives readers a little bigger bite of your story to chew, and at the end, for your call to action, you can direct them to your website, your blog, your author page, or a link to sign up to be on your mailing list.

And, of course, don't forget to have a link so they can purchase the entire book.

I know you still run the risk of readers still not reading the book--I have a pile of free sample chapters by Mr. Patterson I haven't read yet.

Once again, it depends on your marketing plan and writing goals.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Free isn't all it's cracked up to be

You participate in two seminars: one is free and the other you pay $100 (or $250 or $500 or $2000) to attend. Both are weekend-long seminars. Once they’re over and when it’s time to reflect on what you’ve learned, which one do you either go over first in your notes? The one you paid for. Why? Because you have a financial investment in it.

The same goes with ebooks. Some authors—and many of these are bestselling, mind you—will tote that you need to have the first book in your series for free and then, if the reader likes it, they will buy more in your series. While all this seems fine, great, and dandy—and I want to add it is with this strategy that those same bestselling authors will propagandize how they sold those truckloads of ebooks—I think there is an element missing and all one had to do is look at your own ebook collection to figure out what that is.
There are three authors who, collectively, put out a weekly podcast that is not only entertaining, it is very informative when it comes to indie publishing. They have a dozen or so series of books, where in all of them they have the first book set at permanent free status. I’ve “bought” all of these free ebooks because, quite frankly, I used to be a whore for the free. Nowadays, I’m not so much. A perfect example is when I go looking for a book to read—and my Amazon cloud has several hundred ebooks to choose from—do I pick the free book or do I pick something I paid a little coin for, even if it’s $.99? I go with the one I paid money for. Why? Investment, my friend. There is no investment when you get it for free.
I am a devoted fan of the “Writing Excuses” podcast (no, this is not the podcast I mentioned earlier) and in one of their recent episodes they had a guest: Mette Ivie Harrison. I had never read anything by her and when I’ve listened to her on this podcast before, I thought she was one smart cookie and wanted to know what she had written. When I reviewed herAmazon author page I found that her least expensive ebook was $2.99. That’s smart. If there is a book I’m thinking of investing in and I’m unfamiliar with the author, I may get a sample of the ebook first. You can always go that route, but it is marked as SAMPLE on the ebook. That way, I know it’s not the entire ebook and I may still read it sooner than others.
I currently have four ebooks, with three listed at $.99 and my full-length thrillerBeholder’s Eye at $2.99. Oddly enough, guess which one I sell more of? It’sBeholder’s Eye.
Now, I’ve said I’m not a fan of the free, but that doesn’t mean I won’t buy something at a discount. I’m currently reading in the second book of the five-book collection of George R. R. Martin’sSong of Ice and Fire series that I purchased this past holiday season for $9.99. That is WHY too much I want to pay for a single book, but when I saw that I could get all five for that, I bought it. I’ve also purchased ebooks by Brandon Sanderson, Brian McClellan, Bradley Beaulieu, David Farland, and Alan Baxter (to name a few of my favorites) when they’ve ran discounts on their ebooks.
But somehow those “free” books keep sliding further and further down my list.
Having ebooks permanently free, to get readers interested in your series, may still be a viable way to go, but it’s not the only way. It all depends on your marketing strategy and what your goals are as a writer.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Happenings In The Outhouse 18-Apr-2014 / Shadowkill, a trilogy?

Over the past weekend, I put Gabriel's Hope on a few more publishing platforms.  I have removed it from the Amazon KDP Select program, and it can now be found on:

Gabriel's Hope on Smashwords (which will eventually filter on out to the Apple iBookstore, Barnes and Nobles, and others)

Gabriel's Hope on Kobo Books

I'm roughly halfway through editing Shadowkill.  It seems slow-going, but it's also been steady.  I also have been doing some brainstorming on this story, and I've come up with two additional stories in the Shadowkill world.

So, where I once thought this was a stand-alone novel . . . is now a potential trilogy.

Please see last week's "Happenings" post where I posted a sample chapter from Shadowkill.  Let me know what you think.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Happenings In The Outhouse 11-Apr-2014 / Excerpt from upcoming technothriller "Shadowkill"

**In the upcoming months, I will be publishing Shadowkill.  To wet your appetite, I am offering a small excerpt right here.  If you like what you read and want updates, please subscribe to my blog and you'll get updates on when it's coming out.
**You can also follow me on Twitter @MarkSRPeterson

The first time Lucas and Tre realize they’re in Washington D.C. is when they drive within sight of the Washington Monument—the five hundred and fifty-plus foot tall obelisk poking up like a middle finger proclaiming America’s superiority to the world.

Seated in the back of a dark-colored sedan, they drive by Lincoln Memorial and soon turn into a parking ramp.  Instead of going up, they head to the sublevels.  After passing through a checkpoint manned by a uniformed officer, they park in a stall, sandwiched between a plain white van and a black BMW.  There is a RESERVED – DO NOT PARK sign secured along the concrete wall before them.

The floor lowers, drawing them further underground.  The only source of light is the ambient dashboard lights.  Once they hit bottom, the driver turns on the headlights and they soon come to a set of steel double-doors.

The driver and front passenger immediately jump out, then open the back doors to let out Tre and Lucas.  The air is strikingly cool.  They head through the doors and down a narrow hallway until they come to a large auditorium-sized room with banks of computer screens and workstations laid out before them.  Along the walls are various computerized maps, many displaying areas in the Middle East.

Four men walk up to them.  Three are dressed in suits, while the fourth bears a well-decorated military uniform.

“Mr. Paxton and Mr. Simmons, it’s a pleasure to meet you,” a man with a crewcut, one of the suits, says.  “My name is Rex Cornelius.  I’m the Creative Manager for Mountainview Gaming.  I hope you had a pleasant trip.”  He extends a hand.

“Pleasant?” Lucas asks, crossing his arms.  “Let’s see: we’re confronted by a couple of guys who look like they’re from Men In Black, told we have just a few minutes to pack a change of clothes before we’re thrown into a car and sped off to the airport.  Then, instead of heading out to your headquarters in California, we’re flown to D.C.”  He gestures all around him.  “No, I’d say pleasant doesn’t even register on my radar.”

Tre also crosses his arms.  “Yeah, what he said.”

Lucas removes the check from his pocket.  “Thanks for the money dough.  It’ll come in handy.”

Rex smirks.  “Sorry for the cloak and dagger treatment, gentlemen.  But given the extremely sensitive nature of the circumstances, we needed to take such precautions.  All in the name of national security.”

“National security?” Lucas asks.  “This is a joke, right?”

“Not in the least.”  Rex turns and gestures to the other two dressed in suits.  “I’d like you to meet the founders of Mountainview Gaming, Peter Chin and Lich Glasnov.”

All thoughts of their bizarre treatment over the past few hours are erased.

Now all I have left to do is meet George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, and marry a Victoria’s Secret model, and my life will be complete, Lucas thinks.

“And this,” Rex continues, gesturing to the fourth, “is Major Reginald Armstrong of the Joint Chiefs.”

Lucas and Tre straighten their posture and shake hands with the high-ranking Major.

“Now, if you’ll follow us, you can meet the rest of your squadron.”



*          *          *


One side of the room is lined with glass, overlooking the control center.  Near the front is a large screen displaying the United States Presidential Seal.  There are five chairs lined up in front.  Three are already occupied.

Tre and Lucas sit on the remaining empty chairs.

“Gentlemen and lady,” Rex says, standing in front of them.  “Before we begin, I’d like to introduce everyone.”  He points over to the left side of the row.  “Miss Stacy Zutz, better known as Weaselman.  She hails from Chicago, where she attends the University of Illinois with a major in psychology.  Next is Todd Williamson from Seattle.  You may know him as Lowblow.  He’s been a manager at Starbucks for the past eighteen months, and in his spare time when he isn’t playing video games he’s writing a science fiction novel.  Then we have Bruce Ulrich, known as BigGunz.  He’s been the lead programmer for several Fortune 500 companies over the past twenty years, and has spent the last three in Boston.”

After introducing Tre and Lucas to the group, the lights in the room dim.  Images of the war in Iraq—many far too graphic to be shown on network TV without the strictest of content warnings—flash into the screen.

“Over a year ago,” Rex says, “while putting the final touches on Shadowkill: Mideast Conquest, we were approached by Major Armstrong about an experimental project.  Long story short is that the government was developing a new group of soldiers and needed highly-skilled gamers, like yourselves, to help run them.”

The doors at the back of the room open.  Six soldiers, all dressed in light tan military fatigues, march towards the front of the room.  They stand at attention, facing the five.

“Gentlemen and lady, let me introduce you to the real Shadowkill Squadron.”

Upon command, all six soldiers salute in perfect unity.

“When you mentioned that the government needed gamers to help run new soldiers, what did you mean?” Tre asks.

“These aren’t ordinary soldiers, Mr. Paxton,” Rex says.  “They’re robots.”

**If you enjoyed it, please subscribe to my blog for updates on Shadowkill and other books**

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Happy one-year birthday "Guest of Honor"

One year ago today, I published my first fiction ebook: Guest of Honor.

It was a joy to create, and frightening to boot.  It also contains two bonus features: a short story called "Hatchet Harry" and an excerpt of my first full-length thriller Beholder's Eye.
Inspired by the Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Megan Dust is an eighteen-year-old on her way to the Twin Cities, from her home in northwestern Minnesota.  She knows hitchhiking is dangerous, but loves to play the odds.
She meets up with Bart Simms, an estate planning attorney from Minneapolis, who is on his way to meet a farming family.  There's only one problem: Megan has lived around there all her life and she's never heard of the family.
If you haven't picked this book up, please do so.  Here is the Amazon Kindle link for "Guest of Honor".

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

I am officially a Goodreads Author

As of yesterday, I was officially approved on Goodreads as an author!

In late 2013, I was listening to a podcast and they suggested signing up for their author program.  This way, my books would be on there for more exposure and can rate me.  When I tried to do this, I had great difficulty and decided to leave it for one of my 2014 goals.

Fast forward Monday night, I went on Goodreads on my laptop--normally, I'm on Goodreads on my mobile device.  I then discovered all four of my books were on Goodreads!  Holy cow!

After much digging, I submitted a request to Goodreads to approve me.  Tuesday morning, I recieve an e-mail approving me.

Here is a link to my Goodreads author page.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Happy two-year birthday to my very first ebook!

Two years ago today, I published my very first ebook on the Amazon Kindle: 99 Ways To Have A Memorable Wedding On A Shoestring Budget.

I published it as an experiment: could I do it?

That's all. It wasn't an earth-shattering manifesto nor was it intended to be.

I had a few people laugh and ask me why I could write such a book if I never planned a wedding. My answer is that this book isn't a wedding planning book. It shows 99 ways to cut costs on your wedding. Now, it only has one review--a two-star, also--which is disappointing because I've had a number of people e-mail me to thank me and to say how some of the ideas really did cut costs, for they were things they never thought of.

So, happy two-year birthday to 99 Ways To Have A Memorable Wedding On A Shoestring Budget.

Also, I have decided to expand my publishing platform to both Smashwords and Kobo Books.  Links are as follows:

99 Ways on Smashwords

99 Ways on Kobo Books

Friday, April 4, 2014

Happenings In The Outhouse 04-Apr-2014 / The myth about truck driving and writer's block

Forgive me if I can't find the original source--I've heard this could be from David Morrell or even Lee Child--but I heard someone ask a writer about how they deal with writer's block.  The author said they just write.  A truck driver never gets truck driving block--and a ditch digger never gets digger's block.  Writers should just write.

But this is a myth.

And here's why.

Truck driving and ditch digging are not creative ventures.  Writers create something out of nothing.  The same goes with any artistic task.  Painters, sculptors, and writers create something from nothing.

So the analogy of truck driving and writer's block is hogwash.

But is writer's block real?  I'd say it is, but in a way it's more of an excuse not to do something.  I do agree with David or Lee or whoever said it.  You just need to write.  There are days I'll sit for an hour and get a few hundred words down that I had to rip out of my soul.  Then, there are days I'll sit for the same time frame and crank out close to two thousand.

On the hard days, I still write.  Even when I'm editing, I still get blocked at times.  This week--I think it was Wednesday--I spent both breaks and my lunch half-hour at work editing a single page of a chapter.  And single freaking page!  Something inside me urged to go on Facebook or Twitter or to check my Amazon ranking.  But I plowed ahead.

I'm currently on chapter 23 of Shadowkill.  A few chapters shy of the halfway mark.  It's coming along nicely, but, as what I witnessed during this week's writers group, it still needs work.

What are your thoughts on writer's block?  How do you deal with it?  Or don't you?  Please feel free to comment below.