Saturday, June 30, 2012

Selling Myself For Fame And Profit
III - Foreground
So what are my ideas for selling myself, you ask? Continuing to write, for one. If I have any hope of making any real, long lasting income from my novels, I have to have a lot of them out. It's not outside the realm of possibility for a previously unpublished author self-E-Pubbing to sell a hundred or so books a month. That's not a lot of dough at $2 in profit a sale, but if you have seven other novels that reader can pick up if they like it, you stand a chance of making enough to pay a bill or two. 
Obviously, I'd love to make it big and sell thousands of books a month, rather than tens, but to be frank, it probably wont happen. So I've made myself content with the idea of writing because I love to write. Which is good, I suppose. But I need to write MORE.
The other plan is to take the dozens and dozens of sites online that I peruse randomly and making a series of organized bookmarks. Every Monday, I open that folder of bookmarks and every site that is in there - I comment on the blogs. It's a little cynical, but there's virtually no better way to get people to know you exist than by commenting on other people's blogs in the hopes they like your comment and click through to see what your blog is like, then buy your book. Ugh. The trick is to actually enjoy the blogs you're commenting on and make meaningful comments. 
Sure, other ways exist - I have a Twitter account for being a twit and a Facebook account for "Liking" things, but no one really seems to click through on those. They might follow you, or friend you, but so few find you.
I do think a Goodreads account is important too.

The real trick when commenting on blogs is to make it easy for people to follow you back down the rabbit hole to your wonderland. Sure, sure, they could click on your picture, then find your profile, then click on the blog link, if you've remembered to make your profile public and linked your accounts properly. Who does that? Or you could write something at the bottom of your post - "Mr. Pale Rides Again - Out NOW! Follow my blog and look for me on twitter to order!" but the easiest way, and the least "Jerky" way I've found is to put a simple hyperlink at the bottom of your comment.
I usually just sign it My Writing Blog or, simply Neal Kristopher.
You'll notice that both of those are clickable and lead right back here to my site. (Though the code below isn't how you actually make links in the blogs themselves, just comments and places like message boards) The links are easy to do with a little code and adaptable too. Say there is a legitimate reason to mention your book in a comment, and not just that you've shoehorned it in to get in a plug. Then when the comment includes the words "My Book" or what have you, make it link to your Amazon page. Easy peasy!

The code is as follows - <a href="thenameofyourwebsite"> The Words You Want To Appear In The Comment </a> simply copy that and paste it at the end of your comment. When it posts on the page, it shows as a clickable link to your page. This is what mine looks like - <a href="">My Writing Blog</a>  I have an email saved with my assorted links in this form and when I comment on something, I just open that email and copy and paste the code.

Beyond that, for now... that's all. Eventually, I may ask some bloggers/reviewers to review a copy, but I want to try letting Mr. Pale breathe on his own for a little while.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Selling Myself For Fame And Profit

II - Middleground

Meanwhile, as I was half-assedly selling my kid's book, I was also writing a new novel and trying to finish up one that I'd started before THE WHISPERING FERNS. It wasn't easy for me. I have a lot of ideas and I love to write but I'm an insufferably slow typist, primarily using two fingers and a thumb and along the way, I also managed to shatter my arm in six places and move 3,000 miles East to Maine. So things were going slowly. 

My long-suffering novel GRAVES (Which is just now being finished up...) is a simple zombie survival novel - no gimmicks, no fast zombies or sci-fi explanations for things - People get infected, die, come to life and bite other people. It takes place in one single overnight shift in a drug store in Montana. It should have been a simple book to dash out, but I made the brilliant choice of writing it from the point of view of eight or so of the customers and employees of the drug store, with chapters alternating. I also found that I had to be in a very certain mood to really enjoy writing it. 

Novel number two is a little different. MR. PALE STEPS OUT, to put it simply, is a revenge novel set in a post-apocalyptic version of  Utah in the 1960's. Simple, eh? I'd been reading a lot of old crime pulp and got enamored with the idea of this old-school heavy getting caught up in a heist just as the bombs go off and taking cover in a safe room and not getting out for a few years later. Everyone he knows is dead and he's stuck in the middle of Utah, which he hates, and he doesn't have any nice clothes, a plan or any idea what he's doing. So he latches onto a group that's ravaging the area and does what he does best - kills some people. Mr Pale is in the final edits stage and I dig the world I've created for him to play in - there's mutants and zombies and religious cults a-plenty. Cool old cars, reliable guns, dusty towns and bad, bad men. It also has a pretty sweet cover by Deeply Dapper

So I finally have some books to start flogging. I plan to self-pub them - like my Moonstone Bay series (Which I'm writing the second novel now) I think they're fun reads, but not exactly what's selling commerically right now. Zombies are hot, but mine's a pretty specific kind of zombie book and while I'm sure alternative timeline noir is burning up the charts, I've always pictured the Mr. Pale series as fun, short form pulps that I can write in between novels as palate cleansers. 

I conquered the intricacies of E-Pubbing with Whispering Ferns but any real success eluded me and I aim to remedy that this time by doing what I should have done in the first place - make people want to read my books and more importantly, make people aware of the existence of them. How? Well.... I'm not 100% sure. I'm still short on free time and I don't have money to advertise, but I have a few ideas....

Monday, June 18, 2012

Selling Myself For Fame And Profit

I - Background
In a couple of months, I'm finally coming out with a novel. I released one a year ago - THE WHISPERING FERNS, which was the first in a series of kid's books under the name Kristopher McClanahan. It was a really fun experience and I love the book. It's only sold about a dozen copies, but some of those are to strangers and that's really gratifying, especially because I did so much wrong when I released it.
THE WHISPERING FERNS was a novel I wrote for NaNoWriMo that paid tribute to the kinds of books I loved as a kid, good natured, somewhat innocent adventures, where friends were made, mysteries were solved and ghosts were hunted. It takes place in the Pacific Northwest and centers around a boy named Smith who goes to live with his aunt and uncle in a tiny fishing village called Moonstone Bay. While there, he finds new friends and a ghost in the forest. 

A simple story and a lot of fun to write. That was the easy part. I had a cover made by my pals at Deeply Dapper, one I like a lot, and I let images of big numbers parade in my head every once in a while. I also did the smart thing and found a writing group to latch onto and glean info from, The Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Chat Board, AKA Verla Kay's. I loved it there. I made a lot of connections with other writers and illustrators who were doing the same thing I was: creating a world to entertain people. Some were all out pros and some were just starting, like I was.All of them were funny and insightful and great.

I also started promoting myself on websites and blogs, commenting on posts and making myself known as the generally witty and handsome fellow that I am. I got some attention and even had a few agents casually take a look at my novel. Unfortunately, something I knew was a fault made itself clear to the agents - my book is old-fashioned. There's humor and action and adventure, but there's no sons of gods or scathing sarcasm. Not the kind of book that sells. 

But that was okay, I was already pretty darned excited about the E-Pub world and the way it was expanding, so I went that route, unraveling the tricks of the websites to eventually come up with a pretty solid little E-Book, which you are welcome to purchase for three bucks on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple and Smashwords

The problem is that by the time my book came out, I'd slacked off on being a real person in cyberspace. I hardly commented on blogs or blogged myself and had virtually vanished from Verla Kay. So my little novel was released with barely a blip and there it has remained.... Waiting....

Monday, June 11, 2012

It's been almost a month since I started typing standing and what's the verdict? So far inconclusive. Unfortunately, I've been too busy to do much writing, though I did finish my second draft on Mr. Pale Steps Out and wrote a few thousand words on Graves All I know is that the first day, I realized standing half on a rug and half off was not going to fly. Day two was better - I adjusted a few heights and moved the rug. My feet hurt a bit after an hour of typing, more from standing still than standing, as I stand at work all day. No back problems the next morning or anything like that.

I'm toying with the idea of getting a secondhand treadmill and rigging up a writing desk to that as so far, my biggest complaint is standing still. If I could type and write at the same time.

We'll have to see. More later.

Stand By