SLEEP DISORDERS – my latest book now available on Amazon

Just wanted to let everyone know that my latest book – a psychological thriller – is now available on Amazon for .99 cents, but only for a short time.

You can pick it up here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07XX9WVGM

Sleep Disorders Cover 2

When Zach’s wife disappears from a busy restaurant, he digs into her past only to discover that she’s been living a secret life. To make matters worse, Zach has been waking up at night fully dressed, the lights on in his house, and his front door unlocked. Has he been sleepwalking? He’s never done it before? Does it have something to do with his wife’s disappearance? He films himself while he sleeps to see where he goes and what he does, but what he sees on the film scares him to death . . . and it’s only the beginning.

I hope you’ll check out my latest book, and please feel free to share this post.

Thank you!

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WRITING TIPS: AUGUST 2019

PRICING YOUR BOOK

You’ve got your book ready to publish now (please refer to previous Writing Tips posts where we discussed the steps leading up to this). Your book has a great cover, an intriguing description, it has been formatted professionally, and you’ve got your keywords and phrases selected. Now it’s time to price your book on Amazon.

At what price should you sell your book? Should you start at .99 cents for a few weeks or start out at $2.99? Or even $5.99?

First, let’s look at a few things that may impact this decision. One good thing to do is to see what other books from indie authors in your genre are selling for. I say indie authors because well-known authors writing for large publishers may sell their books at a much higher price that’s been set by the publishing house. You could try to sell your book at $8.99 or $9.99, but you have to remember that you’re competing with well-known authors at this price point, and readers who don’t know you may not want to take a chance on your book at such a high price. You may want to try a lower price to attract new readers.

Also, the royalty rates Amazon pays may come into your decision to price your book. As of this writing, Amazon pays 35% royalties for ebooks from .99 cents up to $2.98, and also on books over $10.00. They pay a 70% royalty rate for ebooks from the $2.99 to $9.99 price range (and please double check this yourself before publishing because things can always change). When pricing your book, you’ll be prompted to select either the 35% or 70% range, and then you’ll have to price your book accordingly in that range. To benefit from the higher royalty rate, you may want to price your book in that range, but it’s entirely up to you.

Nonfiction books, as a rule, can often sell for a higher price than fiction, so that’s another thing you’ll have to keep in mind. And even though your book might be nonfiction, it’s still a good idea to compare your book to others in that genre.

But let’s say you’ve written a fiction novel. You may want to check books that are similar to yours in that genre, or sub-genre, to see what they’re selling for. You may find that a lot of indie authors are selling their books anywhere from .99 cents on up to $6.99. Yes, maybe a few authors will sell their books for more than that, and some may give their books away for free, but let’s just say that the above prices are where most of the books fall. So, what about the price of your book?

Let’s say you decide on the price of $2.99 to start with so you can get the 70% royalty. Maybe you want to come in a little lower than $3.99 and $4.99 so readers might take a chance on your new book. And maybe it’s selling pretty well. You can always experiment with your pricing, bumping it up to $3.99 or even $4.99. If sales drop off dramatically after your price change, you could drop it back down to $2.99. Experiment with the pricing and see which price works best until you hit that sweet spot.

What about having a sale for your book? Maybe you want to discount your book to .99 cents for a little while to increase your sales and your ranking. You could either start your book out at .99 cents or start out at a higher price and put your book on sale later (this can work well if you’re in Kindle Unlimited – you can lower the price for up to seven days once per 90 day period and still keep your 70% royalty rate). If you aren’t in Kindle Unlimited, you could lower your book to .99 cents to attract new readers for a little while. This can be a good tactic for the first book in a series. Some authors leave the first book in their series at .99 cents hoping to draw the readers into the series.

You could offer your new release at .99 cents for the first 30 days to build up the sales and reviews, and then raise the price later.

So, the choice is yours when it comes to price. And remember, you can always experiment with it.

Hope this helps someone out there.

Until next time . . .

WRITING TIPS: JULY 2019

SELECTING KEYWORDS

While setting up to publish your book on Amazon, you’re allowed to select up to seven keywords or phrases to use to help readers find your book in a search. There are a lot of books written on the subject of keywords, but I will give a brief explanation of what they are and why they are important to getting readers to notice your book.

Keywords are words or phrases that readers may use to look up books they want to read or subjects they want to learn more about. For instance, a reader may type in the words “horror novel” into the Amazon or Google search bar, then the most popular searches or relevant searches related to those words will show up. Some readers might stop at the first suggestion, and others may refine their search even more, maybe typing in something like: cosmic horror fiction. So you want to use those seven keywords carefully, using words or phrases that are closest to the exact genre of your book.

You will have to read Amazon’s Terms of Service to make sure that you’re not using keywords that aren’t allowed – like book titles and author names. If you want to target certain books or authors, you can do that with AMS ads and Facebook ads, but not with the keywords you use to publish your book. But you can still come up with some good keywords. If you’ve written a haunted house book, the word haunted house might be a good keyword to use. Or the word haunted, or haunting, or the phrase haunted house fiction. There are many words and phrases to choose from.

So how do you come up with the best seven keywords? One thing to keep in mind is to try not to use the same words that are in your title, genre category, or description because these words may already come up in searches related to your book. So, once you’ve ruled out those keywords, and forbidden words, you can start looking for the best keywords to use.

Here are some suggestions for finding the right keywords:

You could get a piece of paper and a pen and just brainstorm. Think of what your book is really about and what readers might type in the suggestion bar while looking for a book like yours. You could come up with a list of hundreds of keywords (and make sure you keep this list because you can use a lot of these words and phrases in your AMS ads if you choose to utilize those). You can only use seven keywords and phrases at a time, so pick the best seven without repeating words from you title, selected genres, and description.

Another tool you can use is the Amazon search bar. You type in a word and see what Amazon suggests. For instance, you type in the word horror then suggestions will pop down like the phrases: horror books or horror fiction. You could go through the alphabet using a core word like horror. Type in the word horror (or whatever word you’re using) and then the letter a and see what is suggested. Then the letter b, then the letter c, and so on. And again, make sure you write these suggestions down and keep the list in case you need to use it later.

Another way to find keywords is to use software such as KDP Rocket (and I think the name of the software has been changed to Publisher Rocket). I haven’t used this software or others like it yet, so I can’t really comment on it, but I’ve heard good things about it.

Now that you’ve selected your keywords, you’ll want to keep track of your sales data. I would suggest keeping track of your sales daily, writing down your sales and page reads, and then keeping track monthly using your monthly reports. As you keep track of your sales data, make sure you note if you’ve changed keywords, descriptions, covers, or had any kind of promotions or used any kind of advertising. By keeping track of your sales data daily, you can see what’s working better than others. If you decide to change your seven keywords or phrases (which you can do any time), you can tell if the changes are helping with more sales or if sales are decreasing.

So get your keywords list created, and when you’re ready to publish your book you’ll have them available.

Hope this helps someone out there.

Until next time . . .

 

BOOKS 2 AND 3 NOW AVAILABLE

Just wanted to let everyone know that the second and third books in my Dark Days post-apocalyptic series are now available on Amazon.

You can pick Chaos: Dark Days Book 2 up here: www.amazon.com/dp/B07TVYNW19

Dark Days 2 (a)

You can find Exposure: Dark Days Book 3 here: www.amazon.com/dp/B07TY5S1S8

Dark Days 3 (a)

As the Ripper Plague spreads across the country, we meet new characters in Books 2 and 3. But as they see dreams of Emma calling to them, and dreams of the shadowy man amassing a dark army to stop them, they begin their journey south to come together.

I’m working on the finishing touches on Refuge: Dark Days Book 4, and I hope to have it available in the next week or so.

Please feel free to share this post and help spread the word. Thank you!

MID-YEAR PROGRESS REPORT

Wow! This year seems like it’s going by fast. Once again, I set lofty goals for myself this year, and I’ve already fallen short of what I wanted to achieve at this time. But the year isn’t over yet, so maybe I’ll get close to meeting those goals.

I’ve published two books so far this year: Possession, the next book in my Exorcist’s Apprentice series, and then a little over a month ago, Collapse, the first book in my Dark Days post-apocalyptic series.

I’m working hard to get the next three books in the Dark Days series on Amazon within the next few weeks, so hopefully by the end of July they will all be on there and available to read.

Here’s the cover for the second book in the Dark Days series:

Dark Days 2 (a)

And here’s the cover for the third book in the series:

Dark Days 3 (a)

And here’s the cover for the fourth book in the series:

Dark Days 4 (a)

I’ve gotten the fifth book completed and almost ready to go, and I’m in the middle of the first draft for Book 6. I’ve also begun outlining Book 7 and Book 8. I’ve had a blast writing this series and I can’t wait to write more.

I’m also working on the third book in The Exorcist’s Apprentice series and on two stand-alone thrillers.

Thank you to all of you who have taken the time to read my books. I know there are millions of books out there to choose from, and I’m honored if you chose to read one of mine. Like I’ve said many times before, being an author is a dream come true for me, and it only happens because of readers like you. Thank you!

I’ll be back in the middle of July with another Writer’s Tip, and I’ll post my usual list for Halloween and an end-of-the-year progress report in December.

Until next time . . .

 

WRITING TIPS: JUNE 2019

WRITING THE DESCRIPTION FOR YOUR BOOK

You’ve got an amazing book you’ve written. It’s been edited and polished, and now it’s ready to be published. You’ve gotten a great cover designed. So now what’s the next important detail? The description of your book.

First, let me point out that some call the description a blurb, but these are two different things. A blurb is usually a sentence or two touting a book, usually by a newspaper, book reviewer, or another author. For instance: “. . . scary as hell” would be a blurb, and then the author’s name or newspaper or book reviewer would be listed. A blurb can also be kind of like a tagline on a movie poster or a DVD cover. “In space no one can hear you scream” is a famous tagline for the movie Alien.

So the description for your book that you would have on Amazon or another retailer wouldn’t be a blurb (but could have a tagline or blurb in it somewhere). Your description is also not a logline or a synopsis. A logline is a screenwriting term for a one or two sentence description of a movie, usually under 50 words. A synopsis is the entire story boiled down to a page or a few pages. A synopsis tells the entire story: the beginning, the middle, and the ending.

You do not want to write a synopsis for your description, and you definitely don’t want to give away the ending of your book in your description, or too many plot twists and turns. What you want to do with your description is to entice the reader into either buying your book, or at least intrigue them enough to want to read the first 10% in the Look Inside feature on Amazon.

Once a title, cover, and price have piqued a reader’s interest, the description can often be the last hurdle (and sometime the reviews, but we’ll get more into reviews in future posts) before purchase. So the description is your chance to hook your reader into buying or borrowing your book.

So, how do you write the description? There are many books written on this subject, but I would definitely recommend Bryan Cohen’s book. That book, and others, will go into a lot more detail than I will here, but I’ll try to give some pointers.

First, as I said before, you do not want to make your description a synopsis of your book. You want to introduce your main character(s) to the reader, the main problems or obstacles the characters are facing or trying to overcome, and also a main adversary (or could also be the obstacle). And you’ll want to reveal the setting of the story (place and time). This is for fiction; I’ll get into nonfiction shortly because they require very different descriptions. In fiction, you want to set up the story and then raise questions: Will the two characters fall in love? Will they get away from the evil characters? Will they survive the disaster?

As far as structuring your description, I believe you should keep the description pretty short. I know it seems counterintuitive that readers who love to read entire books hate to read long descriptions, but it seems to be the case sometimes. You don’t want your book description too short, either. You need to have enough there to get the reader interested in your book.

I like to try to use the three-to-four paragraph structure for descriptions. A short paragraph, then another, then another, and then maybe one more. It could be three brief paragraphs, or it could be five. But having large blocks of text can look intimidating, so breaking up your text into easier-to-read paragraphs can really help.

I think you should try to incorporate your genre into your description. If you’re writing a horror novel, then try to make your description scary or foreboding (without being cheesy, of course). Action? Make your description fast-paced, maybe with short and powerful sentences. Romance? Introduce the two characters who must overcome all the obstacles and fall in love.

It’s a good idea to study descriptions of books, especially books in your genre. Read descriptions by other indie authors, but also read the descriptions of traditionally published books. Go to a bookstore or used bookstore or library and study the backs of paperback novels or the descriptions inside the dust jacket. Those descriptions were written by professionals who were trying to get you to buy the paperback or hardcover book.

Like studying book covers in your genre, it’s helpful to study descriptions in your genre. I’ve heard that writing the description can be as hard as writing the book. And it can be difficult to boil a book down into a synopsis or a description, but getting it right can be rewarding.

For fiction, you’re telling a story. For nonfiction, you’re often helping to solve a problem or giving information on a subject. Nonfiction descriptions should be structurally different from fiction. Again, it’s important to read the descriptions of other books that are similar to the one you’re going to publish. For nonfiction, you’re going to want to make your description longer than fiction because you’ll want to pack as much information into your description to make the reader want to read your book. For instance, if you’ve written a diet or exercise book, you would want to describe how and why your book is different from so many other books. You’ll want to show that you’ll be giving the reader valuable information for the money and time they spend. Even though your overall description may be a lot longer than a fiction description, I still think it’s a good idea to break up long text into shorter paragraphs, and using bullet points can be a big help.

Remember, after your book is published it’s easy to change your description if you want to. You could experiment with different techniques and see which ones work better by keeping track of your sales (you can also track the success or failure of keywords this way). And you should be keeping track of your sales/borrows, at least monthly, but weekly or daily is even better. How will you know if a new description or keyword or marketing promotion is working well if you don’t keep track of your sales data? Even if writing/publishing books is a hobby for you and money isn’t that important, there’s still no better data than your sales/borrows. Even if this is a hobby, I’m sure you want to reach as many readers as possible. Why else would you write?

After you’ve written a description and you think it’s perfect, try reading your description to your family or friends. Or send your description to other authors you know or beta readers, if you have them. Or, if you belong to an author group, show them your description and get their feedback.

So, you need to do some research on descriptions of other books in your genre, and then get to work on your own description. Write out several descriptions and see which one is working best by reading them to other people you know.

Hope this helps someone out there.

Until next time. . .

 

WHEN SOCIETY COLLAPSES . . .

Dark Days 1 (a)

I’ve been working on this post-apocalyptic series for over a year, and the first book is now available on Amazon for .99 cents for a short time. I’ve got the next four books written and I will release them over the next month or so as I put the finishing touches on them. And I’m working on the sixth book now. This is my favorite story I’ve ever worked on so far, and I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I do. Please feel free to share with everyone you know.

You can find the first book here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07SCPL6QB

ABOUT THE BOOK:

It started with rumors of a plague that turned people into flesh-eating predators. The governments of the world and the media tried to suppress it, but little by little the truth got out. The economy had been in a free-fall, banks closed, protests turned into riots, people began hoarding and panicking. And then on a Friday morning, the collapse came.

After the government office where Ray Daniels works shuts down, he just wants to get home to his wife and kids. On his arduous journey home, Ray gets a phone call from Craig, his supervisor, inviting him and his family to his home where the answers to the collapse and the Ripper Plague are waiting for him, but the call breaks up and Ray only hears the word Avalon.

When Ray gets home to his family, the TV stations have been replaced with a loop of the president of the United States declaring martial law. The electricity and water are shut off soon after that. They hole up in their bedroom for the night – they have no weapons, little food, and no information about why everything collapsed so quickly.

After Ray’s neighbor, Helen, holds a secret meeting to try to fight back against martial law, she asks Ray to help her blind daughter Emma, promising that Emma can help him and his family find the way to Avalon. But what is Avalon, and what does Emma know about it?

Hours later, after soldiers in gas masks take Helen away, Ray has no choice but to flee with is family. Society has crumbled within the last twenty-four hours. Hordes of flesh-eating infected are loose on the streets. The police and military are doing their best to fight back, but they are losing the battle now. The collapse is here, and Ray wants the answers that Craig has, but he must keep his family alive first.

I hope you’ll share this post and help spread the word. Thank you so much!

 

WRITING TIPS: MAY 2019

FORMATTING YOUR MANUSCRIPT

In previous posts we talked about writing your first draft, then the editing/revision process. We talked about getting a cover designed. Now you will have to format your book for either print or e-book readers, or both.

So how do you format your book? We’ll start with e-book formatting first. You could either hire this service out or format it yourself.

When it comes to doing the formatting yourself, I’m exclusive to Amazon so I can only tell you my experience with their formatting software. It’s easy through Amazon. When you download the software you can just upload your completed Word file into the program and it will format the book for you so that it’s able to be read on Kindle devices (and other devices like cell phones and tablets). It may take a little getting used to, but it’s not difficult at all.

If you don’t want to format the book yourself using software or a retailer’s software (like Kindle on Amazon), then you could hire a formatter to do the work for you. I’ve had many of my books formatted by a service (Dellaster Design), and I’ve always been happy with the results. I’m sure there are other formatters out there, so you would have to research them, just like you did with editing services and cover designers.

Whether you choose to format the book  yourself or hire the service out, you want to make sure your formatted book looks good on all devices. You want to make sure chapter headings are correct and that there aren’t any large blank areas in the book. If you have images in your book, you’ll want to make sure they look professional. You’ll want to make sure all of your links to websites work. You’ll want to check your Table of Contents and make sure you’re not missing a chapter. You are competing with traditionally published books and other indie authors for readers. If readers open your book and the formatting is funky or difficult to read, they may give up on your book, and all of your future books.

I’ve done both, formatted books myself and hired a service to do it. But I always check the final version on a Kindle previewer( which you can download from Amazon) just to make sure everything is exactly as it should be. Once you’re happy with your manuscript, you can upload your file and it’s ready to publish or ready for pre-order (whichever you prefer).

Once your book goes live, I would recommend buying a copy as quickly as possible and then looking it over on your Kindle or tablet (and even your cell phone) to make sure the experience for your readers is going to be what you intended it to be.

Print books can be a little more of a challenge to format and professional formatting services often either don’t do print books or charge a lot more to format them. I used to format my own print books with Createspace, but they’re not around anymore and I haven’t tried formatting the print books with Amazon yet. I’ve looked over some guides on Amazon, and I intend to get a lot more of my books into print soon, and when I do, I will update my progress.

Hope this helps someone out there.

Until next time . . .

DEALING WITH DOUBT

I read a great article from Script Shadow about writers dealing with doubt and I wanted to share it with you.

Even though this article is aimed at screenwriters, I think the habits in this article would work for any writers. And even if you don’t write scripts, you could find a ton of useful advice on the Script Shadow blog, and I definitely recommend following it.

Here’s the link below:

http://scriptshadow.net/dealing-with-doubt/

Hope it helps someone out there.

Until next time . . .