Tag Archives: amazon

E-Book Holiday Promotion How-To

For those folks who have been following my blog for a while, you might remember that I had a HUGE October promotion for two of my books – TATTERDEMON and DEVIL TREE.

Well sir, I have to say that all in all my promotion was a good short-term success. For starters it sold an awful lot of copies of both books and it has left me with a fine long “tail”.

So what is a tail, you might ask?

A tail is kind of like the splash that a rock makes after you throw into the nearest pond. Basically what a promotional tail is – is the effect on future sales that a short term promotion has.

I made over a hundred dollars in Kindle sales alone in October. No, that isn’t a lot for some of you more successful writer-types – but it is a pretty good month for me. Currently, two-thirds of the way through November I am already past the hundred dollar mark in Kindle sales alone. With a little bit of luck and a few extra sales I might even hit the two hundred dollar mark in Kindle sales as well.

And THAT is a big first for me. Two triple digit sales months in a row is definitely a bit of a personal record. The last two years I have mostly been in the double digits, barring a couple or three out-of-the-average months.

Now, as I reach the back end of November my sales have begun to slow down. I am coming to the end of my “tail”. So it is in my best interests to throw another rock into the pond and see what sort of splash I can make on my upcoming December sales figures.

Fortunately, some thoughtful marketer invented Black Friday some time ago.

Now – Amazon has been getting on the Black Friday band wagon for a while now. Some folks are upset about the notion of Amazon saying “Hey, you can do all of your Black Friday shopping from your living room couch” – but the older I get the more I hate shopping malls – so I am NOT necessarily against this whole concept. It isn’t like Amazon INVENTED online shopping, is it?

And even Canada has jumped onto the whole Black Friday concept – and why not? We’ve already got over our October turkey comas and we are still riding high on a sugar-buzz of leftover Halloween candy.

thinkstockphotos-90164970

Admit it – how many of you out there have JUST developed a sudden craving for candy corn?

So I have been taking a VERY close look at the Black Friday – Cyber Monday weekend of November 27-30th.

Here’s what I have been up to.


 

First off – I have signed on for the Master Koda Black Friday Cyber Monday Facebook Party. 

This is a group effort put together by about four dozen authors – who are each chucking their own particular sized promo-boulder into the great collective pond.

In addition I have set up several HeadTalkers and one Thunderclap each of them advertising several of my e-book bargains including several 99 cent e-books and a couple of freebies.

I have also signed up for promotions at ebookstage  and My Book Cave – both of which cost me absolutely nothing – because both of these promo-sites are just getting started.

I have also spent two five dollar bills on a Fiverr promo with bknights and Bookkitty – both of whom have performed well for me over the last year or so.

So WHICH e-books am I promoting?

I am glad you asked.

My Halifax-based time travelling toilet extravaganza A BLURT IN TIME is available for only 99 cents all November long. I have set up a HeadTalker campaign as well as using the bknights and the bookkitty and the My Book Cave listing to help promote this one – as well as talking about it during the Master Koda weekend.

My hockey-vampire novella, SUDDEN DEATH OVERTIME is likewise available all November long for ONLY 99 cents. I have set up a Thunderclap campaign to help promote this one.

My mermaid short story, HARRY’S MERMAID  is going to be available for FREE from November 27th to November 30th. I have set up a HeadTalker campaign and an ebookstage listing to help promote this one.

And – as a reward for reading all the way down to the bottom of this blog entry, my story collection TALES FROM THE TANGLED WOODS is free today and tomorrow on Kindle.

Tangled Wood

Click the cover and it will take you directly to the Amazon.com listing. 🙂

Yes sir and yes ma’m – I am throwing one big old multi-faceted promo-rock into the pond of Black Friday. It isn’t too late to set up your own promotion as well. You’ll find some VALUABLE tips in Penny Sansevieri’s ULTIMATE HOLIDAY PROMOTION.

Yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

 

 

 

 

My Big October Promotional Push – Day 7

halloween sisyphus

It has been an interesting week.

I’m busy this weekend selling books at Hal-Con – a huge local scifi/fantasy convention, which has really been taking most of my time and energy – but I wanted to let you folks know how the big October promotion was doing so far.

On October 29th I sold 129 copies of TATTERDEMON on Kindle – which is pretty huge.

I’ve sold 205 copies of TATTERDEMON through Kindle alone this month with almost half of those copies selling on October 29th.

I’ve sold a total of 269 Kindle e-books in the month of October so far – and I’ve got a couple of mini-promos lined up for the first week of November.

Following this promotion I intend to bump TATTERDEMON and DEVIL TREE up to $3.99 – probably by November 7 – which I think I will leave as my steady novel rate.

I’ve sold 48 copies of TATTERDEMON on Kobo this month – making the book #13 in their top-selling horror books this month.

I haven’t sold any copies of TATTERDEMON in Nook or Apple this month – in spite of the fact that several of my promo sites promoted wide.

Kindle is still king – which really isn’t much news to anyone here at all – but Kobo is really beginning to show me their worth this month. I had really begun to doubt the wisdom of not going  strictly Kindle Select – but thanks to Kobo’s new Beta promotion tab – which I will tell you folks all about later this week – I have experienced new life over at Kobo.

I am REALLY tired this morning and I have to go and get some breakfast before heading to man the book table all day today – so I apologize for the rough and ragged nature of this morning’s blog entry.

Lastly – this November I am AGAIN tackling Nanowrimo – so the full-tilt-boogie is going on all month.

Wish me luck.

yours in storytelling

Ha! You weren't expecting this. I usually wait until the blog to sneak this in - but I figure if I slide it in right the middle of the blog that folks will accidentally trip into clicking this banner and then inadvertantly nominating my book A BLURT IN TIME for the Kindle Scout program - which is a little like one of those Wile E. Coyote roadrunner traps that never, ever worked - STILL, if the book makes it into the Kindle Scout Publishing Program you will automatically receive a free Kindle copy of the book.

In between trying to run a book table and an October promotion AND trying to get ready for Nanowrimo AND trying to hold down a day job – I am ALSO trying to run a Kindle Scout Campaign. PLEASE click this picture and nominate A BLURT IN TIME today!

Hand-selling your paperbacks

Steve Vernon, Author

My wife Belinda and I had a great time signing and selling our books this Saturday morning at the Halifax Forum Farmer’s Market. We bought some fruit and vegetables and some awesome cake and a cro-nut (part croissant/part donut) and a sweet yummy gooey butter tart and we had breakfast at Johnny’s Snack Bar across the street from the Forum.

This is how a writer has to do it sometimes. He has to hunker down in the craft shows and book fairs and the farmer’s markets and smile and nod and talk to people – and hopefully sell a few books.

Let me give you folks a few nice moments.

Right off the bat Bill Mont – the fellow who runs the Halifax Forum Flea Market and the owner of Devil’s Island – one of the most haunted locations in Nova Scotia stopped by to test my knowledge of Nova Scotia in general and Devil’s Island in particular. I told him that I had actually flown out there once in a helicopter and that I had met and talked to the couple who lived on the island as caretakers.

He asked me if I had ever written about Devil’s Island – but unfortunately my book that has the most to say about the subject is currently out-of-print.

Nimbus WILL eventually get this one back in print - but all good things take time.

Nimbus WILL eventually get this one back in print – but all good things take time.

A little later a young fellow showed up and told me that he had read all of my ghost story collections and that his buddy Andrew was my very biggest fan. Sure enough, shortly afterward a friend of mine who was working her own table overheard this young man on his cell phone saying to his friend – “Hey, if you want to meet the famous ghost story author STEVE VERNON, you ought to get right down here to the Forum right away.”

(it’s true – he apparently said my name in ALL CAPITAL LETTERS)

Twenty minutes later ANDREW showed up and shook my hand and told me that he was my biggest fan and he bought a copy of HAMMURABI ROAD and I am pretty sure that he may have broken one or two of his teeth, he was grinning that hard.

Yup, moments like that make a writers day.

A little later an old gent by the name of Hugh McKerville stopped by to chat with me. He told me about a book that he had written entitled THE SINBUSTER OF SMOKY BURN.

“It is good to meet a fellow who is as active a writer as you are,” he told me.

We talked a bit about writing and storytelling and the day moved on slowly. It felt a little bit like sitting on the bank of a river just watching time roll by. I always enjoy these moments – even though I really love the time when my thoughts grow quiet and I just set back and indulge in a little people-watching.

I sold a few books – not a lot – but this whole event for me was a time to have a bit of fun and meet some interesting people and to work out a few of the bugs that might present themselves at next weekend’s big event – the Hal-Con Scifi and Fantasy Convention!

That is going to be a BIG event and I believe that I will sell a whole LOT of books.

Time will tell.

As I say, next weekend we will be selling and signing books at Hal-Con and then following Hal-Con our next big book event will be at the Literary Fair in Musquodoboit Harbour in the Old School Gathering Place on November 7 from 1-4pm and from 7-9pm. It is a book signing, selling and reading event with the Christmas market in mind. Belinda Ferguson and I will be there for the afternoon session.

In the meantime, here is a reprint of an earlier blog entry that will give writer-folks some real inspiration for your next book signing.


FLY FISHING IN THE RIVER OF POSSIBILITY – A DOZEN TIPS FOR MAKING YOUR NEXT BOOK-SIGNING A SUCCESS!

We’ve all seen those lonely writers sitting at those tables parked in front of bookstores. We’ve watched them slowly growing cobwebs behind stacks of sadly unsigned books.

 Heck, I have even been one myself, over the years. Signings are never predictable.

Just last month I found myself outside of the Coles Bookstore in the Halifax Shopping Centre. This can be an awfully tough spot to sign in. People come to this mall with high-test boutique shopping in mind. I have seen them sprint past my book table – aimed towards dresses and jewelry and the cellular phone experience and, of course, the food court.

If I sign and sell a dozen books at this mall I figured I was doing great.

But I love that bookstore – partly because of the location – so handy to my home. Partly because the people who work there really love their job and they mostly know me by name and always go out of their way to make this writer feel right at home. Even on days that I’m just browsing the bookshelves they always smile and say “Mr. Vernon, how good to see you.”

So I go there and I do my best and this October I signed and sold twenty copies of my books. That is a fine fat day for a book signing author.

Which goes to show that you can never tell how a book signing will go. That is the number one tip for writers scheduled for a book signing. Anything is possible. Don’t go there figuring you know everything there is to know. You are a writer, after all – which means that you make stuff up. Which means that you need to believe in the power of possibility.

Anything can happen.

So abandon all preconceptions. The fact is we’re just fishing. And I can tell you a fishing story or two. Most of them all begin with “I went fishing and stood on the side of the river” and end with “the mosquitoes bit but the fish did not.”

Here are ten of the never-before-told secrets for signing success.

1. Make sure your bait is fresh. Remember – you are sitting in a building filled with books.  Make sure that yours stands out. Set up a display. Bring a few photo stands to prop up copies.  For the launch of my now-out –of-print weird western-horror I brought a small stuffed buffalo, tastefully zombified.  For Lunenburg Werewolf I bring along a small stuffed wolf – all right, so he’s a husky, but don’t tell him that – you would only hurt his feelings.

Mind you, not everyone will have such an easily illustrated motif as reanimated bison, but anything that stands out stops people.  A snazzy sign, a portrait of your main character, a funky colored lava lamp.  You’re a writer, use your imagination.

2. Find the right fishing hole. Position your table close to an entrance. Heartily hail the folks who walk in. Wave to those who walk out. Keep smiling and have fun. Sooner or later people will come closer just to see what you’re so danged happy about.

3. Have a sharp hook. Get your patter ready. People are busy creatures. If they stop to listen to you they want it to be a succinct experience. On the off-chance if you happen to bore them to tears then at least they’ll be able to extract themselves quickly from what might otherwise be a sticky experience.

Hopefully, you won’t bore them.

“Hi there.  I’m launching a new book today.”  If they come closer to listen, reel them in.  “This is my new book, YODELING WITH MALAMUTES, a heart breaking tale of a Swiss dog sled racer with deep-seated Iditarod dreams.” Talk to everyone who’ll listen.  You are fly fishing in the river of possibility. Keep the fishing line dancing.

4. Keep casting and stay friendly. A lot of folks aren’t really interested in what you’re selling. Pity them quietly, but don’t browbeat them into conversion.  It won’t happen. If folks bustle past, smile and say “Enjoy your browse.” Maybe they’ll stop on the way back.

5. Don’t forget to keep that fishing line dancing. Avoid long conversations. You’ll miss potential customers. Know when to shut up. If the person skims the first couple of pages, let your book do the talking for you. Odds are, you probably sound better in print, anyway.

6. Keep your feet in the water and stay hydrated. Have a drink, you’ll need it. Not a coffee, that’s bad for your breath. Have an herbal tea or a bottle of water – but make it a small one. Easy does it on the maximum-grandiose-large. The bookstore bathroom is a long walk away.

7. Bring a bright and shiny lure. Have a blurb clearly typed up for bookstores with PA systems. “Welcome to Check It Out Bookstores. Today we have novelist Steve Vernon signing copies of his new book PIZZA SCREAMS – A TALE OF DEEP ANCHOVY LOVE. He’s at the front entrance. Come and chat with a real bearded author.”

8. Don’t throw anything back. There is no telling who you will meet. In a two hour signing I met a school principal who hired me to teach a workshop on storytelling and writing; a radio host who lined me up for an interview, and the head editor of a local publisher who signed me on for my next book. Remember – the world is watching you, sitting there at your table full of hopeful books. Sometimes opportunity knocks, and sometimes you hold the door hard against the right set of knuckles.

9. Try and personalize your signature. I make it a point to chat with the person I am signing for and find out who they want it personalized to. Sometimes they are buying the book for someone else. Be prepared to just sign in generically – for the folks who are buying it as a gift idea but haven’t got an idea who to give it to.

10. CHECK YOUR SPELLING! This is very important. There are a lot of ways to spell a name. Ask them to spell the name – no matter how much you think you know how to spell the name “John” sooner or later you are going to run into a “Jon”.

11. Keep a tally on how many you sell. Sign a few before you go. I recommend signing them with a little space up top. That way, when you come back to this store for another signing you can always personalize it with “To John” in the blank space you’ve left up top.

12. Here’s my last bit of advice. No matter how hard the day goes, no matter how few copies you sign and sell – remember to have fun while you do it. You’re fishing, aren’t you?

I would like to dedicate this blog to my stepfather Irvin Chatelois and my grandad Hanlan Vernon – both of you took me fishing and neither of you laughed too hard when I caught nothing but a handful of stickleback perch.

I’m pretty good at book signing – but I SUCK at fishing.

Yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

If this blog entry was the least bit helpful and/or interesting - PLEASE CLICK this banner and nominate A BLURT IN TIME for the Kindle Scout program. If the book makes it into the Kindle Scout Publishing Program you will automatically receive a free Kindle copy of the book.

If this blog entry was the least bit helpful and/or interesting – PLEASE CLICK this banner and nominate A BLURT IN TIME for the Kindle Scout program. If the book makes it into the Kindle Scout Publishing Program you will automatically receive a free Kindle copy of the book.

My Big October 99 cent Promotion – Day 1

Great Pumpkin Sisyphus

Linus and Sisyphus – the Great Pumpkin Blues!

Okay – so today is the FIRST day of my big two book October 99 cent promotion and I am freaking crazy nervous.

Let me tell you, nervous is a lousy way to be.

I have been slowly crawling out of my skin over these last couple of days. It doesn’t help that we have got a front yard full of pavers tearing up our front lawn to build a brand new, much-needed driveway that is going to leave a great big driveway-sized hole in our bank account.

Tomorrow I will be heading out the door at the crack of crow. I need to load the car and head for a local farmer’s market where I have booked a table for half of Saturday. I have a small mountain of my local books and several of my horror novels – in hopes of making enough sales to cover the modest table fee.

Books for the Book Fair 001

So – sometime tomorrow the very first promo of TATTERDEMON goes live at My Book Cave.

The first thing that I really like about My Book Cave promotes wide – advertising for Kindle, Kobo, Nook, Apple, Smashwords and Googleplay. I sell at ALL of these e-book providers and it is GREAT to get to promote for all of those sites.

The second thing I really like about My Book Cave is promotion is FREE!

You see, My Book Cave is just starting out in the business so for now – if your e-book promotion meets their requirements your book will be advertised on their website for FREE!!!

And free is my favorite word.

FREE!

In the next day or so I will tell you about the OTHER book that I am promoting this month.

Here’s hoping we move some books – both paperback AND digital.

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon


If this blog entry was the least bit helpful and/or interesting - PLEASE CLICK this banner and nominate A BLURT IN TIME for the Kindle Scout program. If the book makes it into the Kindle Scout Publishing Program you will automatically receive a free Kindle copy of the book.

If this blog entry was the least bit helpful and/or interesting – PLEASE CLICK this banner and nominate A BLURT IN TIME for the Kindle Scout program. If the book makes it into the Kindle Scout Publishing Program you will automatically receive a free Kindle copy of the book.

How To Create A 99 cent Bargain Book Promotion

Hi everyone!

I have been messing with indie publishing for over three years with mixed success. This year I have decided that I want to hit the puree button on that mix and see if I cannot speed things up a little bit.

I have planning out a very large promotion for some time now. The promotion will involve THE TATTERDEMON OMNIBUS — a book that has so far been one of my best indie sellers. Which means my sainted maiden aunt, three bums from the local park, and my pet cat all think that my book is cool.

Understand now – I do not wish to give ANYONE the sense that I ACTUALLY know what I am doing.

In fact, I DON’T know what I am doing.

I am totally lost, somewhere between west-what-the-f**k and north-by-don’t-you-dare-drag-that-Dane-into-the-mix.

In fact – you couldn’t be more lost if you burned the map and then stirred up the ashes into a funky sort of ink that you used to freehand your own map with your eyes tightly closed. Stomp on the GPS and cram your pocket compass somewhere that I would rather not talk about right now.

So let’s get right down to the promo.

The Tatterdemon Omnibus — usually about $2.99 depending on which way the wind happens to be blowing has been recently marked down to 99 cents. I marked it down about a week and a half before the promo was scheduled to take place and I have been Tweeting and Facebook quietly about this price change and have jogged a few loose sales from a few happy Tweeterers and Facebookogians.
Those are technical terms, by the way. You might want to go and Google them, the next time you are about six drinks into a bottle of strong Scotch.

I set it up this way under the theory that this “soft” opening would bump up the Kindle ranking just enough to give the illusion that this book was written by someone who could actually write and even maybe sell a few books.

This will take you to the Amazon.com sales page where TATTERDEMON is already listed at 99 cents. It might even be cheaper depending on where you are ordering from. Why don’t you order a copy today?

THE TATTERDEMON OMNIBUS
Current ranking — as of October 20th, 2015.
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #44,545 Paid in Kindle Store
#263 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Fairy Tales
#271 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Mythology & Folk Tales
#377 in Books > Literature & Fiction > Mythology & Folk Tales
Twenty reviews — 4.3 out of 5 stars average.

PROMO DETAILS
October 24: My Book Cave
October 26: BookSCREAM
October 26-31: Kindle Book Review Halloween Party
October 27-31: Discount Bookman
October 27: Just Kindle Books
October 28: Fire and Ice Promo
October 28: Buck Books
October 28-30: Awesome Gang
October 28: Book Tweeter
October 28-30: Kobo 99 cent promo
October 29: bknight (a VERY reliable Fiverr book promo service)
October 29-31 Choosy Bookworm
October 29 — Book Sends/Pixel of Ink
November 2 — Robin Reads

Note: Some of you will point out that I missed a few obvious choices but I am simultaneously running a big promo on my historical horror novel, DEVIL TREE and I used some of the other sites that you might name for them. I am hoping that the boost between the two novels will help stir up some heat for the rest of my work.

I am also (naively) hoping that this big push will stir up a few more nominations for my Kindle Scout Campaign for A BLURT IN TIME — my novel of time travelling toilet terror.

Or at least that is the plan.

This is not the best way to create a 99 cent book  promotion. There are better and much more expensive websites to work with – but I am on a deep budget. The main bit of advise that I would give you is if you want to make a big splash and create a big bump in your ranking and hopefully a tail of sales that you will follow you after the promotion is over you ought to concentrate on length.

That means that you shouldn’t be necessarily thinking about a one-day promotion or a three day promotion. I do use mini one-day promotions quite often – but for this sort of a big push you ought to give yourself a good running start.

Think of it this way.

If you sell fifty copies of your e-book tomorrow – your Amazon rank will bump up – but then it will fall down just as quickly. HOWEVER – if you sell twenty copies tomorrow, followed by twenty more on the day after and twenty more the day after that your bump will last a little bit longer. Amazon rewards consistency as well as numerical performance. The more steady your sales are, the more consistently your rating and your VISIBILITY will rise.

I should also mention that a lot of these promotional sites promote WIDE – which means that they also promote your book if it is available on Kobo, Nook, Apple and other sites. Both TATTERDEMON and DEVIL TREE are available at all of these other sites and are marked down to 99 cents already. I am going to be watching closely over the next month to see how my Kindle sales compare to my Kobo, Nook, Apple, Googleplay and other assorted e-book distributors.

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

If this blog entry was the least bit helpful and/or interesting - PLEASE CLICK this banner and nominate A BLURT IN TIME for the Kindle Scout program. If the book makes it into the Kindle Scout Publishing Program you will automatically receive a free Kindle copy of the book.

If this blog entry was the least bit helpful and/or interesting – PLEASE CLICK this banner and nominate A BLURT IN TIME for the Kindle Scout program. If the book makes it into the Kindle Scout Publishing Program you will automatically receive a free Kindle copy of the book.

Can an e-book cover make a difference?

Just take a look at the cover I have been using for my hockey/vampire novella, SUDDEN DEATH OVERTIME.

Sudden Death Overtime - final art

You tell me which book you would choose if you had to go STRICTLY by the covers alone?


Now take a look at the cover that I recently purchased from Christine at Bayou Cover Designs.

Kelpie-Dreams

I’m just finishing up the last couple of chapters of this one. I haven’t decided whether or not I will shoot it into the Kindle Scout program or just release it on my own. A lot will depend upon whether or not A BLURT IN TIME makes the cut on Kindle Scout.

(and I know how tired you folks must be from hearing me yammer on and on – blah, blah, Kindle Scout, blah, blah, nominate)

Speaking of which, Bayou Cover Designs also was the creative force behind the cover for my YA novel, A BLURT IN TIME.

The Tale of a Time Traveling Toilet.

The Tale of a Time Traveling Toilet.

Take it from me – a good cover can mean a whole lot of difference in immediate sales. If any of you writer-types reading this out there happen to be looking for a good cover artist why don’t you swing on over to Bayou Cover Designs and check out some of their premade covers or else hire Christine to do a cover just for you.

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

If this blog entry was the least bit helpful and/or interesting - PLEASE CLICK this banner and nominate A BLURT IN TIME for the Kindle Scout program. If the book makes it into the Kindle Scout Publishing Program you will automatically receive a free Kindle copy of the book.

If this blog entry was the least bit helpful and/or interesting – PLEASE CLICK this banner and nominate A BLURT IN TIME for the Kindle Scout program. If the book makes it into the Kindle Scout Publishing Program you will automatically receive a free Kindle copy of the book.

Leaping to Conclusions On Top Of A Roof

It has happened to all of us.

Every now and then life just seems to get in the way of your writing.

This month – for instance. I have been busy with my Kindle Scout Campaign. I have been busy phoning and e-mailing various contractors regarding the construction of a brand new driveway. I have been working extra hours at work. I have been getting ready for several October public appearances. I went to a wake last night and there will be a funeral today.

Life gets in the way sometimes.

It does for all of us.

Let me tell you about some of these interruptions.

One of the problems I am dealing with is some much-needed work that has needed doing around the house. There is the new driveway, as I mentioned. This is a necessity. Our old driveway – on the back of the house backs into a very busy intersection, which makes it very hazardous to drive out of on certain times of the day. Besides the risk of collision it is also a less than ideal position for snow shoveling. Last winter our little gold Toyota was buried in the driveway by the combination of me being flat on my back with pneumonia during a VERY heavy snowfall, and the numerous visits of the snowplow completely burying our vehicle. By the time I could get at it our car was embedded in about a foot of accumulated ice and about two feet of snow. I was not able to free the car for use until the arrival of springtime. As a result we suffered some serious rust damage and are facing a trip to the mechanic for some body work.

Besides that problem, last winter also buried our roof beneath a mass of ice and snow that ALMOST broke the roof. The kitchen roof was leaking and the rafters in the upstairs were beginning to push down against the ceiling. I had to get up there and hack the ice off and shovel a couple of tons of snow.

Needless to say all of this took up a large chunk of my writing time. I try and not mind these sort of interruptions. Every kite needs a string, I tell myself. All of this foolishment and challenges that fate throws in front of me just give me all that more to write about.

So – this winter in addition to the new driveway I decided to put up heating cables. You know – the kind that melt the ice build-up to help prevent ice dams.

roof cables

Let me tell you about those heating cables.

I’m not handy. Not one little bit. I make Red Green look like a mystically-talented handyman prodigy. So I have to put a LOT of study into any home renovation that I contemplate.

So I studied and I carefully measured and I decided that we needed two lengths of heating cable to get the job done properly – a 100 foot length and an 80 foot length. I picked those up at Kent and brought them home. Then last Saturday I fished the 100 foot cable out of the box.

“I am going to read the instruction sheet,” I told my wife. “I am going to go outside and sit on my favorite lawn chair and study the instruction sheet closely.”

“You have fun with that dear,” she told me.

Only there wasn’t an instruction sheet in the 100 foot box. Somebody had opened up the box and neglected to return the instruction sheet to the box.

“I am going to get the instruction sheet out of the 80 foot box,” I told my wife. “Some cold hearted shoplifting bugger has stolen my instruction sheet from my 100 foot heating cable box.”

“You have fun with that dear,” she repeated.

You see, my wife has learned to stay a safe distance away from me whenever I am attempting something that is the least bit mechanically challenging – such as turning a door knob or tying my shoe laces – (God bless Velcro).

So I pulled the 80 foot cable out of it’s respective box and found the manual and went back to my lawn chair with the cable and the clips that fasten the cable to the shingles and the instruction sheet – which was really more of a manual with about thirty two pages of English instructions followed by thirty two pages of French instructions.

I’ve got a thing about how-to manuals. The way I figure it there really ought to be some sort of intuitive logic involved in the presentation of a this-is-how-you-do-it manual but MOST manuals these days are put together as if somebody had handed the directions and the illustrations to a pack of chimpanzees with a glue stick and a half a bushel of raw bran and prune juice.

Poop fling

I mean it might be an idea if some of these large manufacturing corporations hired a writer or two to actually write their instruction sheets, rather than relying upon graphic artists and committee-think.

This instruction manual was NO exception. It was strewn with this-is-how-you-install-your-heating-cable-when-the-wind-is-blowing-from-the-west and this-is-how-you-install-your-heating-cable-when-the-wind-is-blowing-out-of-your-wazoo. There was no real logical pattern as far as I could see. Tables and photographs were thrown haphazardly into the twenty-some pages of the English version of my how-to-tack-these-freaking-cables-to-your-roof-manual. I had to keep flipping back and forth between six different illustrated scenarios.

I mean really – wouldn’t it be better if the world was run by writers? Every possible world crisis could be averted by a simple “Fuck this shit, I am going to go and diddle about on Google and call it research.”

Every single problem on this planet could be blamed and handily dismissed by something along the lines of – “Well this is just a rough draft. Come the next strafing edit job I’ll clear that mess up in no time at all.”

Right?

Simple?

So – eventually I worked up enough nerve to clamber up on top of that ladder and begin tacking my heating cable up. And – after a few attempted “drafts” I actually began to look as if I knew what I was doing. Only that cable kept looking smaller and smaller until I reached the end of the front side of the house – about ten feet shy of the mark.

Let me tell you the thing about heating cable. It’s not like extension cords. You can’t just run to the nearest hardware store and pick up another length of cord to plug into the first length. These suckers are NOT meant to connect together. You have to cover your house with one cable OR start a second cable from another end of the house and circle around to meet where the first cable left off.

What the hell happened.

I clambered down the ladder and took a few steps backwards to look at the situation. That’s something my grandfather taught me a long time ago. If you are faced with ANY sort of a problem the best way to handle it is to take a step back and smoke yourself a cigarette while you let your eyes work out what went wrong.

To this day I rely upon this simple redneck strategy. I don’t smoke, you understand. I never have. But I take a step back and I visualize my grandfather lighting a hand-rolled cigarette and puffing away slowly. And son of a gun, it usually works for me.

“I know what happened,” I said to myself. “Some bugger took the instructions out of the 100 foot box.”

Remember, the instruction manual HAD been missing from the 100 foot box.

“Some bugger took the instructions out and took the 100 foot cable out and switched boxes with an 80 foot cable in the store so that they could buy their 100 foot cable for the price of an 80 foot cable – leaving me with a freaking 80 foot cable in a 100 foot box!”

I tell you, when it comes to solving mysteries, Sherlock Holmes should be taking notes from me.

So I ran in the house.

“Did you fall off the roof?” my wife asked me. “Should I call for an ambulance?”

“I solved it,” I said. “I figured out WHY I have got an 80 foot heating cable up on my roof where a 100 foot cable out to be. Some dirty cold hearted shoplifting bugger stole my 100 foot cable and left me with an 80 foot cable and…”

The rant went on for about five minutes or an hour or so. I was simultaneously amazingly satisfied at my uncanny deductive skills and enraged at the audacity of some cold hearted shoplifting bugger having the nerve to shoplift MY 100 foot cable from the Kent store before I got there to buy it.

Columbo would have been so proud of me.

“What about that cable on the table?” My wife asked.

“That’s an 80 foot cable,” I told her half-smug at the thought of my wife actually thinking that she could out-think me when it came to handyman work. “That isn’t long enough.”

“Did you check?” she asked.

So – just to humor her I checked the cable.

The 100 foot cable.

When I had been busy fishing the instruction manual out of the 80 foot box I inadvertently hung onto the 80 foot cable and banged it up where the 100 foot cable ought to have been.

Mind you it isn’t going to be all that hard to fix this galactic-sized goof-up.

The clips that hold the cable on the roof are easy to bend open. So today – if the weather cooperates – I will clamber back up the ladder and unhook the 80 foot cable and replace it with the 100 foot cable which WILL reach the end of the roof edge and do it’s job properly.

Maybe next week I’ll attack the Christmas light situation.

I want to apologize to any cold hearted shoplifters out there who are reading this. No, you did not steal my 100 foot heating cable – although you probably DID steal my even-an-idiot-can-do-this-drunk-and-blindfolded instruction sheet – which didn’t help me all that much anyway.

Let me tell you – if you leap to a conclusion on top of the roof you are bound to leave head-shaped dents in your front lawn.


It’s day five of my Kindle Scout Campaign.

I have spent 80 hours off the Hot & Trending List which means that I need to get some more nominations. Odds are, if you are reading this you have probably already nominated my time-traveling toilet ghost story A BLURT IN TIME for Kindle Scout publication – BUT if you did get a giggle or two out of this blog entry and you haven’t nominated me why not click this link  and read the two chapter excerpt and if THAT made you giggle me than help me reach my goal with a nomination.

OR – if you have already nominated me than share this blog entry anyway that you can and maybe some of your friends might giggle enough to nominate me.

I know.

I have no pride.

Click this banner. Nominate A BLURT IN TIME for the Kindle Scout program. If the book makes it into Kindle Scout you will automatically receive a free Kindle copy of the book.

Click this banner. Nominate A BLURT IN TIME for the Kindle Scout program. If the book makes it into Kindle Scout you will automatically receive a free Kindle copy of the book.

My Kindle Scout Campaign – Day 2

Okay, so I am coming to the end of my second day of my Kindle Scout Campaign and I have a bit to report.

Kindle Scout is a little like American Idol for e-books in that you depend upon your e-book getting noticed and nominated by a whole lot of people. The only trouble is that (as far as I can tell) you are not able to determine just how many actual nominations you have accumulated.

The second problem is the Kindle Scout system is set up so that the actual statistics only update themselves ONCE a day – about 5am or so.

So when I got up this morning my book A BLURB IN TIME was listed as being HOT AND TRENDING. In fact – according to my Kindle Scout Campaign Statistics my book was HOT AND TRENDING for at least three hours today.

I am pretty sure it was more than three hours – but again – that hour count is ONLY updated once a day – at about 5am.

The other critical piece of data is that A BLURB IN TIME’s campaign board  received 124 views.

Understand – that doesn’t necessarily mean the book was NOMINATED 124 times. It just means that someone clicked on my page and took a look. I am not sure how and/or when I will ever find out exactly how many nominations I receive.

The Statistics page also tells me that 39% of my page traffic came directly from the Kindle Scout and 61% came from external sources – like Facebook.

Furthermore the Statistics Page informed me that about 37 of my 124 views came directly from Facebook links. Another 16 came from kboards and a dozen or so came from the pages of my blog.

The HOT listing did change about midday when it simply read NEW – but shortly after suppertime the campaign was HOT again.

Remember – that 3 hours and those 124 views were all listed this Monday morning at 5am – so none of Monday afternoon and evening views are showing yet. So tomorrow ought to bring me a whole different picture.

Here’s hoping. Wish me luck and if you can – PLEASE help spread the word. I really, really, really want to make this work!


Click this banner. Nominate A BLURT IN TIME for the Kindle Scout program. If the book makes it into Kindle Scout you will automatically receive a free Kindle copy of the book.

Click this banner. Nominate A BLURT IN TIME for the Kindle Scout program. If the book makes it into Kindle Scout you will automatically receive a free Kindle copy of the book.

yours in storytelling

Steve Vernon

For more info on the Kindle Scout program don’t forget to check out Jill Nojack’s guest-blog entry.

So I am Running A Kindle Scout Campaign…

So I told you that I was going to give you all a little bit more information on my brand new time travelling toilet novel – A BLURT IN TIME.

The Tale of a Time Traveling Toilet.

The Tale of a Time Traveling Toilet.

Well let me tell you all about it.

The novel is about time travel and ghosts. It takes place on Halifax’s Citadel Hill and is my take on the infamous one-armed Color Sergeant ghost who is rumored to haunt the vicinity of one of the old wells of the Citadel. It is dark and it is funny and it is the kind of novel that grown-ups will want to read whenever they think that their kids are not looking.

I wrote this book thinking about submitting it to the Kindle Scout publishing program.

Kindle Scout is reader-powered publishing for new, never-before-published books. It’s a place where readers help decide if a book gets published. Selected books will be published by Kindle Press and receive 5-year renewable terms, a $1,500 advance, 50% eBook royalty rate, easy rights reversions and featured Amazon marketing.

Why am I doing this?

I believe that A BLURT IN TIME would do really well with a bit of Kindle muscle behind the promotion. Kindle is the largest book distributing network on this planet  and I want to be a bigger part of this big grand machine that Kindle has built.

So how can YOU help me?

Well – to do this I need nominations. Just click this image right here and nominate A BLURT IN TIME and if it is picked up by Kindle Scout you will automatically win a free digital copy of A BLURT IN TIME to read on your very own Kindle.

Don’t own a Kindle?

That’s okay too. Even if you don’t own a Kindle you can still download a Kindle app for free and read the book on your computer screen, your smart phone, your tablet or what-have-you. OR you can just accept your free e-book and congratulate yourself for owning it and never bother reading it.

Just think of how many you times you re-read STEPHEN HAWKING’S A BRIEF HISTORY OF TIME.

(and I am NOT talking about looking at the pictures in the illustrated edition…)

So – PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE (I’d say please a fourth time but hey, even a writer has some sort of dignity) nominate A BLURT IN TIME for the Kindle Scout program.

If I get 100 nominations I will – on Youtube – chew up a live Scotch Bonnet Hot Pepper and recite a Shakespearean soliquoy.

If I get 1000 nominations I will actually READ Stephen Hawking’s A BRIEF HISTORY OF TIME.

(yes, I consider reading Stephen Hawking to be harder than eating hot peppers)

All them darned multi-syllable words…

Click this banner. Nominate A BLURT IN TIME for the Kindle Scout program. If the book makes it into Kindle Scout you will automatically receive a free Kindle copy of the book.

Click this banner. Nominate A BLURT IN TIME for the Kindle Scout program. If the book makes it into Kindle Scout you will automatically receive a free Kindle copy of the book.

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

The Fifty-First Shade of Grey – how HARD is it to write like E.L. James, anyway?

So…I have heard that E.L. James has announced that she is releasing a fourth novel in her FIFTY SHADES OF GREY trilogy, to be written from the point of view of Christian Grey.

Click here if you want a copy for your Kindle

Click here if you want a copy for your Kindle

I have to wonder if this gambit is going to work for her.

She claims that her fans have asked for it – but I would hazard a guess that the bulk of her fans like to empathize with her protagonist Ana.

“What if I were Ana?” they like to think. “Imagine if I were hanging on that hot rack of monkey-love pain and Christian Grey was practicing his best Boy Scout knotwork on me. Boy howdy, hum-diggedy-dum.”

Or words to that effect.

They might not dig hearing this story from a man’s point of view. They might not really get off on listening to Christian Grey’s inner knot-thoughts – “Hmmm, is it right over left and under or left under right and over?”

I guess we’ll have to hang in there and wait until those two happy young lovebirds FINALLY tie the knot…

Click here if you want a Kindle copy of the fourth book in the series.

Click here if you want a Kindle copy of the fourth book in the series.

All right – so let me pull my horns in just a little bit.

For starters, I did try to read the first book and I could not get past the first chapter. That’s okay. There are an AWFUL lot of books out there that I could not get past the first chapter.

It took me YEARS to get through Dick and Jane.

Yup, you can even order this one in paperback if you want to work your way up to 50 Shades...

Yup, you can even order this one in paperback if you want to work your way up to 50 Shades…

All kidding aside, I would be HAPPY to have written FIFTY SHADES OF GRAY. I would be HAPPY to have them many folks buy my novels.

At the end of the day a writer’s job is to get his words out there to the hungry eyes of as many readers as he can reach.

I know some of you noble-minded folks will say something along the lines of “Oh, I just write to fulfill my creative destiny” but all I have to say to that is piffle.

That’s right.

I said it.

Piffle.

I am sorry to use such strong language in front of your delicate eyes – but we, as writers, are craftsmen as well as artists. We are building a product that should be consumed. A book, unread, is about as useless as an unsung song. It is about as useless as a shoe that cannot be worn upon a human foot.

And if anyone says “horseshoe” at me, prepare to have a Clydesdale dropped upon your wise-cracking head.

Hi - I am a Clydesdale. My name is Clyde - but you can just call me Roadblock...

Hi – I am a Clydesdale.
My name is Clyde – but you can just call me Roadblock…

Writing is hard work – and even a novel like FIFTY SHADES OF GREY took a lot of time and effort. The truth of it is I have TRIED to write a romance twice in my lifetime.

The first time I did not know any better. I had read that a fellow can get rich writing short contemporary romances – so I wrote a novel entitled LUNENBURG LOVE.

It was bad.

It was REALLY funky bad.

Earlier this year I sat down to try and write another romance – but I got no more than a chapter into it and then this ghost showed up and this kelpie and this sea hag and all of a sudden I am writing something that you MIGHT squint at and call a paranormal but it still looks an awful lot like a horror novel to me.

I guess I just cannot do it.

It takes work, dedication and a certain degree of creativity to write ANY novel – even if it is just a hack job or something aimed at turning a quick dollar. So do not look down upon such books as FIFTY SHADES OF GREY. Any book that can sell over 90 million copies has got to have SOMETHING going for it.

I still can’t read it, you understand.

But I will not giggle TOO hard at it.

This, on the other hand, might be giggle worthy…

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

(and thanks to the folks at INK, BITS & PIXELS for the tip on this)