Tag Archives: indie

Nanowrimo Housecleaning Blues…

Okay.

So what I want to know is WHY – if I am writing a young adult novel in NaNoWriMo – does my freaking house look like the crime scene from out of a police procedural? Housecleaning is a joke. Both my wife and I are hard at work on simultaneous NaNoWriMo projects.

It is not that I am all that fussy about keeping the house tidy. We pick up what we can. If we can see the occasional glimpse of floorboards between the dust, the dirt and the accumulated debris – we are happy. But yesterday I swear that I saw the film crew from HOARDERS walking through my living room…

🙂

So how is your day going?

chalk outline

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

PS: Do me a favor and grab a copy of TALES FROM THE TANGLED WOODS today. It is FREE on Kindle for today only. Happy Monday, folks!

Choosing a Good Book Cover…

Your book cover is the first and BEST impression that you will give to your reader – so you need to make certain that it is a GOOD one.

Do you want to save money on book covers?

HIRE a good cover artist.

BUY a cover premade.

THIS WILL SAVE YOU MONEY IN THE LONG RUN!

Don’t get your kid brother – who is a freaking whiz at staying in between the lines of his coloring book – do “whip you off a cover”.

Don’t sit down with a Youtube video and a photo of your cat, thinking to yourself that it’s EASY.
It ain’t easy.

Don’t do ANY of these things unless you are prepared to settle for a readership that consists of your wife, your dog, your mom and your other family members.

Kizzy and book 008
(hands up out there you folks who remember the great Canadian house hippo?)

Let me give you an illustration. It’s from one of my traditionally published books – but it IS available on Kobo and it DOES illustrate my theory perfectly.
Let me show you three photos of three separate cover designs my publisher Nimbus and I came up with for my YA novel SINKING DEEPER.

It might help if I told you a little bit about the novel.

This isn’t a commercial.

It only LOOKS like a commercial.)

Sinking Deeper is the story of a young boy who decides with his grandfather to invent a sea monster. Now I know that sounds pretty prosaic – but when you throw in a jailbreak, an impromptu caber toss down a moonlit midnight street, a dory sinking, a couple of musical saw interludes along with some bagpipes and a team of gum-booted dragon dancers, a troop of Boy Scout ghosts, a treatise on stamp collecting and the attempted assassination of David Suzuki you have a better idea of the range we are dealing with in this novel.

So – this was our first idea. We wanted something that said “maritime”. We wanted something that looked a little “homemade” – like the kind of a book cover that a fourteen year old boy might actually come up with. AND – we wanted to incorporate the sea serpent that I had been signing my name with whenever I autographed any of my sea-monster related books.

Sinking Deeper (second version)

Then we worked on it a bit more and we finally came up with this version.

deeper_cover_Jan_24th

Which offers a little bit better balance of design and a happier shade of blue. I also really liked the way that the title seemed to actually “sinking” into the ocean.
That is the cover that we went to press with and there are still copies of this out there in bookstores across the country. However, this year Sinking Deeper made the shortlist for both the Hackmatack and the Silver Birch award – which meant we moved over 3000 copies in a single month – which isn’t too shabby for a regional press.

I told the publisher we might want to look at a cover that was a little more visual and that stood out on the bookshelf a little better.

So they came up with this version – from the talented Sydney Smith.

Sinking Deeper New Cover

That’s what we have on our e-book version right now. It will hit the print run sometime this October – just in time for Halloween.

Now THAT says sea monster.

If you set the first two versions on the bookshelf in a bookstore and stood a few a feet away all that would see is a hazy blue glare. But you set this third version on the bookshelf in a bookstore and you can stand TEN FEET away and you’ll still see a freaking sea monster.

So remember – choosing a cover is VERY important. A cover is like a handshake with a prospective reader. He sees a good cover then he might actually reach into his wallet and pull out the money to BUY that book.

And that’s a good thing.

Yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

Why e-authors still need to get their work in print…

Back on cyber-Monday I purchased myself and my wife a brand-new Kobo Mini.

Kobo Mini

 

 

 

It’s a $79.99 device and was offered that one day for $49.99. So I ordered two of them. And I ordered the cases for them. We’ll open them up at Christmas and I will finally embrace the new e-age.

I figure that it is about time I did.  I’ve been writing e-books for over a year – with nearly two dozen e-books out in “print”.

So I darn well better own me an e-reader.

But not everybody uses the e-reader they get.

I know several people who have bought e-readers and just haven’t found the time nor need nor desire to use them more than once or twice. Some of them can’t figure out how to use the device. Others find it simpler to just pick up a book. And then others never read in the first place – and are given e-books by concerned relatives under the mistaken that simply having a battery attached to the device is going to turn a non-reader into a reader-gone-wild.

There’s probably a dirty joke in their somewhere – but let’s rise above that shall we???

This failure-to-adapt is not an uncommon phenomenon.

According to a recent survey – over a third of the e-readers that are given at Christmas are only used once.

That is an interesting statistic.

Let’s face it – some of us deal with change a little slower than others.

Heck, it took me this long to realize that I should be spelling it eReader rather than e-reader.

The truth of it is – a lot of us want to OWN an eReader, but that doesn’t mean we will use it!

Having a hard time swallowing that? Just think of that last treadmill/exercisebike/Bowflex that you bought on New Years Day three years ago. You know, that thing that you use as a coat rack?

You had to own that, too – now didn’t you?

So – this is why all of us indie e-book authors need to NOT forget about paperback format.

The fact is – the paperback still continues to sell. The publishing world is being modified by the assault of the digital – but that doesn’t mean that we can all start relegating our paperbacks to granddaddy’s dustified attic.

No sir, no ma’m.

People STILL want to read paperbacks.

I know that.

You ought to know that too!

So my next step throughout 2013 is going to be getting more e-books out there – but likewise getting those e-books into paperback format.

Which brings me to CreateSpace. This, as far as I can see – is the best way of getting your paperbacks in print and in distribution.

So how is it done?

Well – I haven’t done it yet – haven’t even started learning – but I wanted to hand you over to a blog entry I found that was VERY VERY interesting and informative.

Check out Lynne Cantwell’s My Journey To The Center of CreateSpace.

This will give you some important information on how to go about getting your e-books into paperback format.

I’ll let you know by the end of January how my journey into CreateSpace works out. I’m backed up with all kinds of demands and obligations – but I intend to see at least ONE of my e-books into paperback format at that time.

In the meanwhile – here are a couple of more really informative blogs that you might want to read.

Writing Like It’s 2009!

How To Get Started Selling Fiction in 2013!

The Five Stages of a Writer’s Growth!

That’s all for now.

Don’t neglect your eReaders…

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

 

Setting your e-book free…

All right – so let’s open this blog post with a commercial.

As of November 20, FLASH VIRUS: EPISODE ONE has been absolutely free in Kindle format.

I’ve climbed to #306 on the FREE IN KINDLE list and have moved over 937 952 TWO THOUSAND free copies – as of December.

If anyone hasn’t downloaded a copy – do me a favor and grab one today.

http://www.amazon.com/Flash-Virus-Episode-One-ebook/dp/B009UD51DY/ref=pd_ybh_4

*****

So, how did I do that? Did I spam all over Facebook?

Well, some. I put up a posting at several of the groups that I follow as well as many FREE E-BOOK and FREE KINDLE Facebook sites that I could possibly find.

I likewise poked a bit through several free e-book lists that I will share with you.

Beyond that I cannot be any more specific.

I’d LOVE to be able to sit guru-like upon my lop-sided office chair which is killing the heck out of my 54 year old spinal column – and tell you all of the secrets of the independent publishing universe.

Only I can’t.

The truth is I am just figuring this out as I go – and, as I am NOT a particularly organized fellow I haven’t kept enough careful records to be able to tell you just WHICH free Kindle website brought on the deluge of free downloads – but I haven’t done that either.

Basically, I applied the shotgun pasta technique. I fired a whole lot of pasta at the wallboards and waited to see which one stayed stuck.

(which is one heck of a seriously mangled metaphor)

So, without further ado, let me offer up to you a list of some of the freebie sites that I hit.

I didn’t hit all of them. I don’t have that much time to apply to that sort of dedicated marketing. And, not all of them fit my needs.

Pick through and find the website that suits you. Submit your next freebie to it for publicity. Some of them will ask for a bit of money. Use your judgement. Don’t spend any more money than you can afford to squander – because there is NO telling which particular bit of advertising is going to work for you.

Try poking through these lists.

Try here

Or here.

Or HERE!

And finally, try here!

***

Try all that and see what helps. There are a lot more free books out there than ever and a new indie writer is going to have a hard time rising through all that clutter and getting anywhere close to the top ten – where a LOT more people will notice your work and (hopefully) begin buying some of it.

Anybody come across other helpful pages let me know and I’ll post them on up here. These four were taken from a VERY helpful Kindle Boards thread.

(and if you are trying to peddle Kindle e-books and HAVEN’T joined up with Kindle Boards – kindly tell me what the heck you are thinking – and/or drinking???)

***

It those links help then download a copy of FLASH VIRUS: EPISODE ONE – http://www.amazon.com/Flash-Virus-Episode-One-ebook/dp/B009UD51DY/ref=pd_ybh_4

if they REALLY helped – or if you’re just feeling sorry for my fifty-four year old spinal column and the tilted office chair it must sit upon – then why not shell out ninety-nine cents on FLASH VIRUS: EPISODE TWO – http://www.amazon.com/Flash-Virus-Episode-Two-ebook/dp/B009YW6X7O/ref=pd_ybh_9

Episode Two is sitting at the 59,711 Paid Kindle List rank. I’ve actually moved a few copies during those five days but I’m hoping that some of these almost 1000 readers who picked up a free copy of Flash Virus: Episode One will feel interested enough in the storyline to go and pick up Episode Two.

Episode Three is also available – http://www.amazon.com/Flash-Virus-Episode-Three-ebook/dp/B00A8OB7IC/ref=pd_ybh_7 – and is currently ranked at 116,044 in the Paid Kindle List rank.

For those of you folks who are unfamiliar with that ranking system – try and think of it as a top million bestselling list. Basically, right now Episode Two is the 59,711th bestselling Kindle e-book in the Amazon system.

I’ll be interested in seeing if the rankings change much in the next few days – but I won’t waste too much time sitting and wondering. Right now I am getting back to work on Episode Four.

Interestingly enough I have moved 11 more copies of FLASH VIRUS: EPISODE ONE in the fifteen minutes or so that it took me to write this blog entry.

Just remember, we’re in all the same boat together.

Here’s to deeper water and fatter fish.

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

My further adventures in self-publishing…Kobo versus Kindle.

Over the last couple of days I priced FLASH VIRUS: EPISODE ONE as a perma-free release at the Kobo website.

 

http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/Flash-Virus-Episode-One/book-YDeVCTJbIk2NEp4ccXfybg/page1.html

I’m using “pusher logic”. Get the junkie hooked on your stuff with a freebie jolt and then position yourself on a strategic street corner and wait for their life savings to come trickling in.

I did it on the Kobo because Kobo makes it easy for a writer to place his work as a freebie.

As far as I can tell to be free on Kindle you need to be listed as part of their Amazon Select Program – which has lot of self-published writers – but in my opinion wasn’t for me. I did not want to only release my e-book in Kindle format. I wanted to get it out there where EVERYONE could find it.

So far that is a definite edge that Kobo has over the Kindle.

However, Kobo has a way to go yet. They need to improve their search mechanism. What they have got is clunky and highly inaccurate. It would also be nice if they had a better mechanism for displaying the number of free copies that a writer can give away. As far as I can tell, I’m going to be in the dark on this matter.

However, Kindle has a few edges over Kobo, as well.

Number one – Kindle sells. I’ve moved more books on Kindle than I have on Kobo.

Considerably more.

That’s a definite edge.

Reviews seem to be a little bit easier to find on the Kindle as well. Kobo is hooked up to Goodreads – which SHOULD theoretically work – but Goodreads is a little biased against e-books – which means it’s harder to get an e-book reviewed on Goodreads. Not impossible, just harder. Apparently, they are more inclined to review books that are released through Goodreads – but unfortunately I have heard that they aren’t currently accepting any new e-books. They’re glutted with submissions.

Kindle, on the other hand has netted me TWELVE reviews for Episode One and TWO reviews for Episode Two. It has also netted me a couple of dedicated followers who are eagerly awaiting the release of Episode Three.

I’m currently working through Smashwords to get FLASH VIRUS out on the Nook and what ever other formats are currently available. I’ve hit a glitch that just requires a bit of time for me to clean it up and I’ll keep you all posted as developments ensue.

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

The Secret Behind A Strong First Line!

“Many years later, in front of the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendia would remember that distant afternoon his father took him to see ice.” –  ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF SOLITUDE by Gabriel Garcia Marquez  

I recently was asked to answer a few questions regarding the importance of a good first line.

So naturally I decided I had to blog about this issue. It is here – in the entries of my blog – that I feel the absolute freedom to express myself as I see fit.

And also – this is a great excuse for me to avoid working on my latest novel.

So what’s a good first line?

“The bullet hit Santa Claus beneath the left eye.” – SOFT TARGET – by Stephen Hunter

That’s a good one that I just spotted the other day at the bookstore. I saw this book, SOFT TARGET, by Stephen Hunter – sitting on the shelf at a bookstore.

Now, I like Stephen Hunter’s work.

I haven’t liked every one of his books – but I liked a lot of them.

So – how do I know if I want to read this book?

Well – we could try looking at the cover.

So what does that cover tell me?

Well, it tells me that it’s a STEPHEN HUNTER novel.

And it tells me that at least ONE BULLET is going to be fired.

That’s important – if you’re a fan of Stephen Hunter novels. Stephen Hunter is one of those authors who has evolved into a NAME BRAND AUTHOR. I see “Stephen Hunter” on the cover – right off the bat I want to pick it up.

This is something all of us authors need to strive for.

I’m not there yet. There are readers out there who say – “Dang, this is a Steve Vernon novel. I’d better pick it up.”

That’s true. There are a few of them.

But most folks will see “Steve Vernon” on the cover and they’ll say – “Steve who?”

So, let’s say that “Stephen Hunter” ISN’T a brand name author yet. Let’s say he’s just a hopeful wannbe.

Let’s say he’s me.

So – the average reader is going to look at that book cover and say – okay, so a bullet is going to get shot. Probably at a soft target.

That still doesn’t mean that the reader is going to bother reaching for his wallet.

You see – that’s what a writer wants.

We want to have the reader reaching for his wallet.

Try and think of it this way. He reads that book in the bookstore – without reaching for his wallet – and you don’t see that royalty check. If you don’t see that royalty check then your bills don’t get paid. If your bills don’t get paid you wind up out in the street – and that’s the end of your writing career because it is AWFULLY hard to run a self publishing career successfully if you have to resort to plugging your computer into a fire hydrant.

It’s a little like that whole “tree falling in the forest without making a sound” koa.

“If a writer does not receive a royalty check then he didn’t write diddly-squat.”

Or at least that’s how I run my kitchen anyway.

“It was a pleasure to burn.” – FAHRENHEIT 451 by Ray Bradbury

So, if you aren’t a BRAND NAME WRITER – how do you get that reader to the whole “reaching for his wallet” stage of activity?

Well, for starters, you ought to have a REALLY good first line.

Just think about it. That is one of the first things that a potential reader will do. He’ll flip open the book and run his finger down the first page, moving his lips zubba-zubba-zubba while he does so.

Or at least I do, anyway.

That’s a critical factor for me in making my own mind up about reaching for that wallet. I read the first line or two just to get a better idea if this book is ACTUALLY something that I want to own.

“When the phone rang, Parker was in the garage, killing a man.” – FIREBREAK by Richard Stark

So, IS a first line that important?

I want you to just stop for a moment and try and imagine all of the many times that you said something stupid to a person that you were trying to impress right from the get-go. It might have been a boss that you were hoping would hire you. It might have been a hottie that you were trying to make a connection with. Just try and remember those many times that you opened your mouth and something dumb fell out of it.

A first line is a first impression.

A first line is that taste of honey that says to the reader – “My God – you have just found something worth spending time and money on.”

A first line is a well-dangled fishing lure.

A first line can be a boot to the side of the head.

An ambush.

A welcome-to-the-deep-end-bubba.

 This is the saddest story I have ever heard. — THE GOOD SOLDIER by Ford Madox Ford

So you are probably expecting me to tell you the real SECRET to creating a truly kickass first line – aren’t you?

That’s why you started reading this blog – didn’t you?

You want a paint-by-number kit that you can take on home and use on your next bit of creative scribbling.

Well – I am truly sorry – but there is nothing EASY about writing – except maybe saying that you do it.

And let me tell you – saying ain’t doing.

So – where do I find my FIRST LINE?

Well, sometimes it jumps right out at me. Sometimes I see it just as clear as a clear blue day – floating there on the top of the page – saying something along the lines of – “Well, what are you waiting for – write me down!”

I’ve got a few lines like that. Some of them I’ve already used. Some of them are sitting in a notebook – just waiting for the rest of the story to come along.

But mostly it isn’t all that EASY at all.

Sometimes I’ll find my first line about three chapters into the first draft.

That’s what writing is like sometimes.

You can’t just sit around and wait for your first line to show up. You have to diver right in and start lining them words up and sooner or later your first line will see all that commotion and it will push past all them other lines you’ve lined up and jump right out into the lead.

So how will you know that it’s your first line?

You’ll know.

Finding a good first line is a little like finding true love.

I’m not talking love like – Gee, I really love to eat pizza with my feet stuck out on the coffee table – I am talking big true love in BIG FREAKING CAPITAL LETTERS L-O-(my god I’m going to die if she doesn’t notice me now) – V-E!!!

Accept no substitutes.

He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish. —Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea 

Damn, I really love that last one. THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA has got to be one of my favorite novellas ever.

So what about bad first lines?

What about those clunkers that start some books – usually something about Joe Nobody getting out of bed and studying his own face in the bathroom mirror – thinking deep thoughts and wondering what this day will bring before he gets to the end of the story and gets run over by a bus?

Let me tell you.

A bad first line is like hanging a men’s room sign on the ladies washroom door in the middle of an all-you-can-drink-beer-athon.

It is bound to lead to some awkward and highly uncomfortable situations.

I mean – them women’s rooms don’t have any hang-on-the-wall urinals – which is why there are usually longer line-ups to the lady’s room than to the men’s – unless it is an all-you-can-drink-beer-athon.

A bad first line is a KEEP OFF THE GRASS sign at a lawn party.

A bad first line is like telling your blind date that the doctor swore on a stack of e-pirated Bibles that your love-cooties were only directly communicable on months with an “R” in them.

A bad first line is the Gee-I was-certain-that-was-just-a-heavy-sounding-fart-before-I-unsqueezed in the dress pants of existence.

I’m not saying that it’s pretty.

So let me leave you with three more first lines.

 It was the day my grandmother exploded. —Iain M. Banks, The Crow Road

Elmer Gantry was drunk. —Sinclair Lewis, Elmer Gantry 

“Preacher Abraham Fell stared down at the witch, Thessaly Cross, breathing like he’d run for a good long stretch.” – TATTERDEMON by Steve Vernon 

Which you can order on Amazon.

or on Kobo

or on Smashwords

or – if you aren’t motivated by any sort of gratitude over the five or ten minutes of amusing blogginess to rush out and download my book – why not read the review instead.

yours in storytelling,

Steve

(call me Ishmael)

Vernon

USING THE KINDLE FIRE DEPARTMENT TO SELL YOUR BOOKS!

Okay, so yesterday my hockey/vampire novellete SUDDEN DEATH OVERTIME appeared as the KINDLE BOOK OF THE DAY at the KINDLE FIRE DEPARTMENT – http://fireapps.blogspot.ca/2012/09/sudden-death-overtime-kindle-book-of.html.

Since I started this blog as an attempt to keep a record of how my e-publishing is progressing I thought I’d fill you folks in on the results of this promotion.

First off – the KFD gave SUDDEN DEATH OVERTIME a GREAT review.

A delicious blend of dark humor, horror, hockey, and vampires, author Steve Vernon‘s highly rated Sudden Death Overtime is a fun read, plain and simple. With a vibe that reminds me of the movie Sean of the Dead, this is a story that will surprise you and carry you off to places you had no idea you wanted to go. And if you haven’t read anything by Vernon yet, get ready to have a new favorite author. Start with this one! – Kindle Fire Department

That’s a solid review and it’s hard to argue with that.

Ratings wise, the promotion gave a big bump to the little book. One day earlier the book had bottomed out at an Amazon Rating of 455,291. This morning SUDDEN DEATH OVERTIME is sitting at 23,224.

(for those of you who do not know – Amazon ratings are a little like golf scores – the lower the number the better it is selling. Think of it as your ranking in sales. On Tuesday the book was ranked the 455,291th top selling e-book on Amazon – and this morning it is the 23,224th best selling e-book.)

That’s still a long way away from the top 100 – which is REALLY where a book or an e-book wants to be at Amazon. Books in the top 100 show up on the radar a lot more – and as a result are seen by more new readers – and hopefully sold to new readers.

So – on the face of it – this promotion was a good investment – especially when you couple it with tomorrow’s upcoming promotion – a REALLY entertaining guest blog appearance at the RG2E, (The Reader’s Guide to E-Publishing) complete with a giveaway – will hopefully bump that Amazon rating a little higher.

(and here’s a link to the RG2E – http://thereadersguidetoepublishing.wordpress.com/)

However – when I look at the number of copies that the promotion created it is a little less positive.

In conclusion I believe the KINDLE FIRE DEPARTMENT is a really great place to advertise your freebie promotions – but possibly less desirable a location to place your regular book promotions. A regular book might be lost among all of the freebies that are regularly advertised at the KFD. I’ll definitely use them again – although I might want to approach it differently next time.

A lot will depend on how far up the ladder I can push this little book. You see, the Amazon sales rating is basically a speedometer of books. The more books you sell in a short amount of time the farther up in the rankings you will climb. I sold some books yesterday. I need to sell some more today and some more tomorrow to really make a difference in the sales ratings.

That’s why it is important for an indie writer such as myself to create a promotional strategy. It isn’t all just about ONE promotional appearance. The key is to link these promotions together to create a momentum in sales. So, when you – as an indie self-published writer – are setting up advertising and/or promotion – keep the timing in mind. Try to clump them together so that each little oomph of momentum builds upon itself.

Lastly, I made a rash promise yesterday to my followers.

Let me quote this –

I promise to do a Snoopy Happy Dance on my front lawn in my pajamas for every copy sold today.

So – without further ado –

Since I began typing this blog entry SUDDEN DEATH OVERTIME has climbed to 21,716 in the Amazon Ratings. Hopefully I will sell a few more copies today before the neighbours manage to dig out their pitchforks and flaming torches.

Yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

STARTING YOUR STORY – FROM A TO Z

Starting Your Story

Okay.

Let’s step into a time machine for a minute. Back to high school dances when I was a kid. They usually happened in the gymnasium. All of the boys would line up on one wall. All of the girls would line up across the gymnasium on the other wall. And then, while the music played on, we mostly just leaned there, squinting across the distance and trying to work up the courage to cross that vast span of gym floor and ask someone to dance.

Sometimes, getting started is the hardest thing of all.

So – today – I have prepared for your use twenty-six story-starting paragraphs.

Read through them and write yourself a short little story. It doesn’t have to be an epic. It doesn’t have to be particularly brilliant. This isn’t rocket science. We’re just sitting here together on opposite sides of the internet, telling each other stories.

Consider it a challenge.

Consider it an exercise.

Consider it an invitation to a dance.

 

Albert had it all figured out. She was coming by train. He wanted to surprise her. He was at the station two hours before the train arrived. He had a chocolate bar an hour before arrival time. As she was getting off the train he was hiding in the men’s washroom, waiting for her to leave.

 

Betty bought the pistol at a pawn shop from a dapper little man who was a foot too short and about thirty pounds too heavy to be considered anywhere close to desirable. He placed the pistol in a shoebox, tied with a frayed yellow string. She drove home, unwrapped the box and loaded the pistol. She turned on the television and sat there, watching a Dr. Phil rerun, waiting for her husband to come home.

 

Cyril hated his job more than any human being ought to.  He hated the sight of his desk. He hated the smell of the wallpaper. He hated the rasping wheedling sound of his boss’s voice. One morning everything changed.

 

Delores loved Cyril – but Cyril had been married to Betty for over twelve years. As far as Delores concerned that was a twelve year mistake that she was about to rectify.

 

Ernest had sold tickets at the train station for sixteen years. Every morning before work his wife would pack him a lunch – cold ham with a slice of processed cheese and a generous squeeze of yellow mustard. A cup of lukewarm tea that he sipped from all day long.  Then one morning Ernest bought a train ticket for himself for the very first time in his life. He boarded the train, handed the ticket to the conductor and sat down at a window seat to watch.

 

Felicia collected butterflies. She loved the magnificent patterns of their wing structure. She kept them mounted in picture frames in her living room where she would sit and rock upon rocking chair and stare for hours at the kaleidoscope of perfect wonder. One morning Felicia decided that she had waited and studied for long enough. It was time to make her very own set of wings.

 

Gary watched the woman upon the roof with that beautiful set of multi-colored silken wings. Any other person in the world would have felt some sort of a brief burst of excitement but Gary was tired of living. He wasn’t suicidal, just intensely lethargic. It had been coming on for some time. He took one last look at the winged woman, then returned to his room and crawled under the bed and lay there in the darkness. “I’ve been waiting for,” a voice whispered far too closely to his ear.

 

Hilda turned the television set off and wondered when Ernest would come home. He was nearly two hours late. He might have been shopping – but he hated to shop. He might have been bowling – but he hated sports of any kind. She picked up the telephone and dialed the train station. When she heard that Ernest had left on the morning train she hung up carefully and considered her next move.

 

Isaac was having a good day. He had sold that pistol as well as the three rolls of silk that the old Chinamen had left with him.  He ought to close early but you should not turn your back on luck. His father had taught him that. When the fat black man with the guitar case walked into pawn shop and said “I’d like to pawn my soul, please.” Harry simply replied “How much were you hoping to get?”

 

Jennifer had never heard such music before. The old black man’s guitar must have strung with lark song and essence of whippoorwill. She threw three shiny quarters into the belly of the guitar case and was surprised when the old man snatched the three quarters up and told her – “I can double this ten times over if you’d like to make a little medicine with me.”

 

Keith picked up the bible and started to pray. He’d done the same thing every morning and every night of his life but God had never listened – until now.

 

Laurie walked into the church with two cans of gasoline and one box of matches. Maybe now God would finally listen.

 

Max smoked his last cigarette just outside of the old church. He was staring directly at the graveyard when the first explosion roared out.  He woke up beside a gravestone, staring at himself.

 

Nancy opened one eye. Then the other. She breathed in. She breathed out. Damn it, she said – I’m still alive.

 

Orson started walking. He wasn’t sure where he was going but he had a hunch he’d know when he got there.

 

Phyllis listened to the waves rolling onto the beach. They had been telling her a story all of her life – a story that only she understood and knew the meaning to. This morning she woke up to discover that the waves had grown silent.

 

Quincy had worn cotton in his ears for as long as he could remember. He had a theory that ninety-eight percent of the words that were ever spoken weren’t particularly worth listening too. Three days following his fifty-eight birthday Quincy finally found a reason to unplug his ears and listen.

 

Rita was ready. Something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue – namely herself. She sat there alone in her room sprinkling uncooked rice and dead daffodils upon the floor playing the wedding march on her dead Uncle Billy’s eight-track player.

 

Steve sat at his keyboard – wondering how in the world he was ever going to come up with a story-starting paragraph for T,U,V,W, X,Y and Z. His coffee was getting cold. His patience was wearing thin. If only someone would help him finish this all-important blog entry. He looked up in surprise to see a small blue songbird sitting upon his windowsill – whistling out the answer in a surprisingly tuneful Morse code.

Too bad Steve had failed his Morse Code Badge in Boy Scouts…

 

Yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

Publishing is Broken, we’re drowning in Indie Books – And That’s A Good Thing

All right, all right – so I haven’t written a fresh new blog for a while. I promise something new come this weekend.

But for now I picked this up through THE DIGITAL READER http://www.the-digital-reader.com/ – which is a website that you really ought to be following on your own rather than reading it filtered through my hairy brain.

Still, I felt strongly enough to post this here. It’s an article on the indie publishing phenomenon.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/davidvinjamuri/2012/08/15/publishing-is-broken-were-drowning-in-indie-books-and-thats-a-good-thing/6/

The Digital Reader picked it up from Forbes.

I feel it’s a solid article that really hits the mark.

 

************************************************************************

And, speaking of phenomenon, why don’t you sing along with this – using the word “phenomenon” instead of ma-na-ma-na???

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wM89T74MPnE

 

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon

 

JA Konrath’s “A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing”

Like I said in a previous post on Jeff Bennington’s Indie Author’s Guide to the Universe https://stevevernonstoryteller.wordpress.com/2012/03/25/the-indie-authors-guide-to-the-universe-a-book-review/ – I am in the midst of attempting to learn everything that I need to know about e-books and/or making a decent income from them.

Which is a little like saying that I have decided to swallow the Atlantic Ocean, one shotglass at a time.

After I finished reading Bennington’s very helpful e-book I decided to tackle something from someone who has become almost iconic in the field of e-publishing – namely, JA Konrath.

Now a lot has been written about JA Konrath’s freaking-mega-huge success in e-publishing.

A lot of it by himself.

This is one of the key’s to Konrath’s success. He is a media wizard. The man knows how to get the word out there. He has set himself up as a bit of an e-book how-to guru – which means that anyone trying to break into the e-book business is going to want to listen to him and learn from him and (most likely) read his stuff.

Like me.

Which is partly why he has sold over 400,000 e-books.

For some of the viewpoint check out this.

http://jakonrath.blogspot.ca/2012/01/reality-check.html

Some people figure Konrath has met with this sort of success because he started with a traditionally-published based audience – (did that make sense? I hope it did) – meaning that he already had a market base established from his Jack Daniels series.

That does count for some of his success. I don’t believe he’d deny it if he was asked.

So there – I’ve figured out JA Konrath’s success in e-publishing. His secret is his ability to get the word out, to stir up the e-reading public and the fact that he likely had a few thousand fans to begin with.

Except that doesn’t explain all of it.

I believe a significant part of his success stems from two other sources.

Number one – he’s prolific. The man writes a book about as often as some people fart. The writing business is a bit of a numbers game. You have ten e-books out there, selling a hundred copies a month – (and I’m just pulling these numbers out of my hat, you understand) – then you are a writer selling 1000 copies a month.

That’s not me, you understand. If I’m to hit 1000 copies – the 20 people out there who actually read this blog will have to begin buying my books at about 50 copies each. Maybe if I start offering a bulk discount…

Mmmm.

Number two – and this, in my opinion, is the big one. JA Konrath is goddamn good. I started reading him from his first release, WHISKEY SOUR.

From day one, his words rocked me. I even made it a point to write a review of one his books for Cemetery Dance – even though it wasn’t necessarily a horror-based novel. His words just flow and he entertains and his dry sense of humor always makes me feel good. He’s got that same comfortable style of writers like Joe Lansdale, Robert Parker or Janet Evanovich. The man’s work reads like a good bottle of cold beer. You know what it tastes like, you know what it’s going to feel like going down your throat and you know that it will fill that craving that you have for good cold beer.

I can’t really write a proper review of  Konrath’s first book on e-publishing, THE NEWBIE’S GUIDE TO PUBLISHING. The book itself is over 1100 pages long and is simply the accumulation of everything about writing that he has ever blogged upon since 2005 to 2010. Some of the early entries are quite out-dated – as it begins while he is still firmly imbedded into the field of traditional publishing. Which, in my opinion, makes this book all the more valuable because it actually SHOWS how a traditionally published writer makes the transition – or, at least how Konrath has done it.

I’m only about seven percent of the way into the book. I’ll probably be picking at this one for months to come. Maybe it is a stupid way to go about doing things – but, because I am attempting to ride the twin horses of traditional and digital publishing – I find the advice offered in this e-book to be timeless and invaluable. There were about a half a dozen entries into that early part that I wanted to link to – tell you – HEY READ THIS, HEY READ THAT – but hell, why waste all that valuable bandwidth when I can put it to you simply.

You want to learn this business?

Pay attention to what this fellow is telling you.

That great big honking e-book of writing advice will cost you a mere $2.99 at Amazon – or you can just download the PDF for free at Konrath’s website – http://www.jakonrath.com/writers.htm

Either way you’re going to learn an awful lot from reading this book.

I believe that’s as close to a review as I’m going to get.

(note – two of the commenters mentioned the Scott Nicholson e-book on e-publishing WRITE GOOD OR DIE. I know Scott and he’s a good dude and has been in the business longer than Konrath – so his words bear listening to. AND, today the e-book if free. Here’s a link. Go and grab it. http://www.amazon.com/Write-Good-or-Die-ebook/dp/B003H4QZOG/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1333120110&sr=1-1)

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon